When I heard about this push to encourage people to fill half of their plate with fruits and vegetables, I thought about the reality of actually getting people to do this. You see, I can stand up on my soapbox and preach to you for hours on the wonders of fruits and vegetables, something I would be happy to do, but the fact of the matter is that many people already know that fruits and vegetables are healthy and they should eat them.
The problem is this; despite knowing how beneficial they are for ones health, many people still don’t include them in their diet. Therefore, my task as a Dietitian is not to tell you to just fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables; it is to provide you with ideas as to how to actually do it! Below I’ve identified common barriers to eating fruits and vegetables as well as some solutions to help you overcome them. Check it out! Hopefully it will help you eat more fruits and vegetables!
- Try different preparation methods. For instance, roasting vegetables gives them a sweeter taste and crispier texture. Boiling vegetables gives them a bland taste and soft texture.
- Sneak them into your food! For example, to create healthier taco meat, try this: Cook your taco meat as usual. When you go to add the seasoning, also add 1 cup (or more!) of mashed squash.
A busy life means less time to focus on food preparation. It also can lead to dining out more often and grabbing fast food more than you should.
- Streamline your food preparation! Set aside time to prepare a bunch of healthy meals/snacks for the next couple of days. This will help ensure healthy food is readily available to you. Think of it this way: It can be quite convenient to come home after a long day and have healthy left-overs waiting as opposed to grabbing some not –so-healthy takeout!
- Get healthier takeout! If you do opt to get takeout, avoid places you know you can’t get healthy food at. If the places you normally go to don’t serve healthy food, set aside time to search the web for new places to visit. A great site to check out ishttp://www.happycow.net/.
- Visit the prepared foods section of your grocery store! Pick up some pre-cooked vegetables, along with other healthy items, that you can easily heat up when you get home.
- Fruits and vegetables are nature’s fast food! Grab a raw carrot or apple and take it on the run!
- Teach yourself with a cookbook. Make it a goal to select at least one recipe per month and try to make it! You may wish to use vegan and vegetarian cookbooks for inspiration, as they are packed with great fruit and vegetable based recipes.
- Take a healthy cooking class! Have some fun! Bring a friend! Laugh and learn to cook healthier together! Just make sure the class cooks with fruits and/or vegetables! Do a quick web search and find a class near you!
- Buy canned and/or frozen. Sometimes these can be less expensive than fresh.
- Buy what is on sale!
- Rethink eating out. Eating out tends to be more expensive than dining in. In fact, it can be cheaper to cook a healthy meal at home versus dining out on an unhealthy meal.
Hopefully some of these tips will help you add more fruits and vegetables to your diet! At minimum, try to aim for at least 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables per day. For more ideas on how to include fruits and vegetables into your diet, see “20 Ways to Enjoy More Fruits and Vegetables” at www.eatright.org/nutritiontipsheets.