As you know one of the things we track on our healthy living challenges is fruits and vegetables. Our goal has been to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day with 3 of those being vegetables. Did you know I’ve been going super easy on you? The suggested number of daily servings of fruits and vegetables vary among dietetics guidelines with some suggesting as many as 12 servings per day.
Check out this fruit and vegetable calculator prepared by the Center for Disease Control to see how many it says you need.
It suggests that I get 3 servings of fruit and 5 of vegetables daily.
To be honest I’d have to make an extra effort to get that many servings of fruits and vegetables in --especially since I’m still traveling. While home I tend to get a lot of my daily vegetable servings from my green smoothie lunch and I fit in the others as a snack or with dinner. I often don’t enjoy any fruit or veggies for breakfast. This challenge to eat more fruits and vegetables throughout the day is one in which you can include your husband and children. Why not begin their summer vacation with healthy foods spread throughout the day? Before we get started you might want to stock up your fridge with favorite fruits and a veggies and have them washed, cut up and prepared for easy grabbing throughout the day.
The whole point of this particular challenge is for you to displace something else that you would normally eat (like chips or fries or even crackers) with some colorful produce. So for those that are worried about the extra expense of fruits and vegetables try buying more produce INSTEAD of something else that you would normally buy. And also consider buying frozen produce, which is a wonderful alternative to fresh and usually cheaper. I started having a dessert of frozen mango (eaten while still frozen) while visiting my daughter and it is one of my new favorite treats.
I’m not sure if I shared that my dietician daughter worked with a very fit and trim dietician in Hawaii a few years ago. This dietitian had children and when talking with my daughter about how she handled their desire to eat at McDonald’s she shared “We do go once in awhile but I limit them to one fast food item. That isn’t enough food for them to get full so I always grab a bag of mixed frozen veggies and throw it in the car when we head off! They eat it while I drive.” Can you imagine inspiring such a healthy habit in your family?
Here are some tips and meal ideas to help you fit more vegetables and fruits into your week
• For breakfast…
◦ Put some small bits of fruit in your cereal or oatmeal (like frozen blueberries or bananas), and also have some fruit (like apples or pear) on the side
◦ Mash up some bananas to go inside your pancake batter and offer a second fruit like grapefruit on the side
◦ Make an omelet with chopped bell peppers, onions and mushrooms inside and have some fruit to go along with it as well
◦ Have a smoothie with your breakfast especially if you have to run out the door…you can easily throw in a lot of different fruits (and even veggies like spinach)
• For lunch…
◦ Try making a sandwich or wrap with veggies inside (like cucumber or lettuce or avocado) and also have some fruit on the side
◦ Cut up some raw veggies that you can dip into something like hummus
◦ Soups are often packed with veggies and would be easy to heat up (or take to work) if you had some leftover from dinner the night before
◦ If you are going out to lunch consider bringing a banana or apple with you (or eat it beforehand) to supplement your meal…restaurants don’t usually offer very many fruit items on their menu
• For dinner…
◦ Have a salad with your dinner as well as a side of veggies
◦ Make a one-dish meal like pasta, stir fry, or quesadillas where you can easily mix in a variety of vegetables
◦ Eat two vegetable sides instead of a starch like rice
◦ Consider adding fruit to your dinner…I always think of dinner as a time to have veggies, but fruit would often be a good addition as well
So here is our 3 part challenge for the week:
1. Use the CDC calculator to see how many servings of fruits and vegetables you and your family members should be getting per day.
2. Eat a minimum of two different fruits or vegetables with every breakfast, lunch, and dinner meal this week.
3. Try to increase your daily intake of fruits and vegetables to the level suggested by the CDC