“Eat your fruits and vegetables!” – You’ve likely heard this since childhood!
When I was growing up, I would pick strawberries, watermelon, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and cucumbers from grandfather’s garden. We would sit on the back deck eating an entire watermelon for breakfast. Once in awhile when he went to have coffee with the guys, I was allowed to have powdered donuts. I am thankful those healthy habits were instilled in me from a young age!
Currently, starting from a young age, fruits & vegetables are being replaced with high calorie processed foods, fast food, and sugary drinks. Individuals who eat fast food one or more times
per week are at increased risk for weight gain, overweight, and obesity. Empty calories from added sugars and solid fats contribute to 40% of daily calories for children and adolescents aged 2–18 years, affecting the overall quality of their diets. Approximately half of these empty calories come from six sources: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza, and whole milk.
Healthy eating is associated with reduced risk for many diseases, including several of the leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. More fruits and vegetables also help manage your weight. Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are important for good health. This doesn’t mean that you have to eat less food. You can create lower-calorie versions of some of your favorite dishes by substituting low-calorie fruits and vegetables in place of higher-calorie ingredients. The water and fiber in fruits and vegetables will add volume to your dishes, so you can eat the same amount of food with fewer calories,
To get the amount that’s recommended, most people need to increase the amount of fruits & vegetables they currently eat every day. Working in Weight Management, I see the most success when people consume 5-10, 1-cup servings of fruit & vegetable each day. The fruits & vegetables become a tool for life because they can “weed out” the higher calorie processed foods they may have reached for if they didn’t have fruit &vegetables.
- Try to eat 5 1-cup servings of fruit/vegetable everyday.
- Avoid sauces. Instead, flavor vegetables with fresh or dried herbs and a splash of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar.
- Eat a salad full of fruits and/or veggies each night with dinner. Just go easy on the dressing and high-fat toppings.
- Grill fruits and vegetables to make them sweeter and more delicious.
- Chop, dice, or shred vegetables into muffins, stews, lasagna, meatloaf, and casseroles.
- Keep a bowl of fruit on the counter and some cut-up vegetables in the refrigerator for healthy snacks.
Snacks Around 100 Calories or Less
- Medium-size apple (72 calories)
- Medium-size banana (105 calories)
- 1 cup steamed green beans (44 calories)
- 1 cup blueberries (83 calories)
- 1 cup grapes (100 calories)
- 1 cup carrots (45 calories), broccoli (30 calories), or bell peppers (30 calories) with 2 tbsp.