Plants are the best sources of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals on the planet. They give our bodies the nutrients it needs to properly regulate bodily functions that help fight off diseases. Eating a diverse group of fruits and vegetables every day is a sure way to supply our bodies with the nutrients it needs to keep us healthy. Eating an orange, apple, and kiwi in a meal is better than eating three bananas. The USDA recommends that everyone eat at least five servings of vegetables and four servings of fruit a day. (But you can eat more!) Maintaining a balance in our diets is important when it comes to eating a diverse group of foods. Most people would probably prefer to eat anything rather than a vegetable on any day. Eating enough vegetables can serve as a challenge for many people. Here are a few tips that can help you make sure that you eat enough vegetables in your diet every day.
1) Start your day off with some greens
A healthy day starts off with a healthy breakfast. Breakfast is arguably the most important meal of the day because your body just woke up from a 7-10 hour slumber of not eating or drinking anything. Eating a meal after you wake up refuels your body and keeps your metabolism in check. Some people claim they don’t eat in the morning because they don’t have time or they don’t believe in the magic of breakfast. There really is no excuse to not eat something for breakfast. If you’re running late one morning you should at least have a banana or an orange to take with you on the road. For those of you that eat meals at home in the mornings try and add some veggies to whatever you’re eating. Having vegetables for breakfast gives your body a plethora of nutrients early in the day and it makes everything else you eat later taste much better. Add 1 cup of lettuce to smoothies or cook a stir fry with a mix of vegetables in a pan. You could also eat a green salad with some cut up pieces of fruit as a topping for breakfast.
2) Make vegetables the main course of your meal
If you really like eating vegetables for breakfast then you don’t have to stop there; you can continue eating them for the rest of the day. For a meal you can easily make a veggie soup, chili, salad and stir-fry or you can just cut up raw veggies like carrots, celery, peppers, etc. and eat them like finger food. The key is to eat enough and eat different kinds. You need to kind of need to know how to cook if you want to enjoy eating vegetables. There really isn’t a way around eating “tasty” vegetables unless you or someone can make them “tasty” by cooking them or dressing them up. The beautiful thing about cooking with vegetables is that they are versatile ingredients and recipes can usually switch or substitute vegetables. It might take some mental toughness to eat vegetables, especially raw, but you’ll be doing yourself and your body a big favor.
3) Eat a variety of vegetables
It’s already been mentioned but it’s an important part of a balanced diet. At a meal you could try and aim to eat at least 2 different kinds of vegetables. Then for the next meal you can eat at least 2 more different kinds of vegetables and etc. Eating one of any kind of vegetable every day is alright, but you’ll be better off if you eat different vegetables every day and at every meal. You might like eating bok choy for dinner every day but you should eat something different the next day. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables gives your body a variety of nutrients, and you will have a lesser chance of becoming deficient in any one nutrient.
Written by: Josh Reid, Kent State Dietetic Student