When anyone asks me for my most recommended change for health I always say more fruits and vegetables. Nobody likes to give things up or avoid things, so why start there? Plus you’ve heard me say it before, all foods fit. You shouldn’t have to give anything up.
So first things first, aim for 5-8 servings of fruits or vegetables per day. It’s not as easy as it sounds! Even I struggle with it. But when you work at incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet you’ll likely notice you’re eating less of the “unhealthy” calorie dense foods as well. For example let’s say you reach for an apple with peanut butter for a mid afternoon snack and then you don’t end up eating one of the office muffins. Or maybe you have carrot sticks as a side with your sandwich instead of chips. Adding nutrient dense foods increases the overall nutrition you’re giving your body but also may cut back on the other stuff unintentionally.
What does my day look like in regards to fruit and vegetables you may ask?
Breakfast: fruit (I am not the type of person who can eat vegetables in the morning)
AM snack: fruit (usually melon at work)
Lunch: 2-3 vegetables (I usually eat a salad. The bed of greens counts as one serving and then various other vegetables)
PM snack: fruit? But sometimes this is just nuts
Dinner: 1-2 vegetables (I have a hefty appetite so I bulk up all my meals with vegetables)
How can you get your fruit and vegetables? First up, stock up. You need to buy it in order to eat it. Fresh or frozen, it doesn’t matter. If you are worried about food going bad maybe start with a few fresh and mostly frozen. It’s up to you, but don’t let frozen veggies fool you, they’re just as nutritious.
Next, prepare them all at once so it requires less prep as you go. Slice carrots or buy baby carrots. Roast some vegetables and incorporate them into meals as desired. Studies have shown that carrots are more likely to be eaten when they’re cut up beforehand whereas apples should be left whole. Also keep them easy to see/find! If they’re hidden you won’t eat them.
And finally don’t be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone! And keep trying things. It takes up to twelve exposures to like a food sometimes. I taught myself to like tomatoes, but I still can’t eat a cherry tomato without cutting it first. Everyone has their own preferences but don’t let that limit your produce intake. Maybe you like carrots cooked but hate them raw? Maybe you can eat spinach in a smoothie but not in a salad. To each his own, but try to get those vegetables.