Last year, I had a one-month resolution to eat seven fruits and vegetables a day. I picked seven because it was right in the middle of the recommended 5-9 servings per day (which actually may not be enough). After a month of extra produce I learned two things. First, ensuring I got more produce made me feel great. Secondly, six fruits and vegetables was about the right number for me. Seven servings and up seemed to produce vastly diminished healthy returns and stressed me out, while five servings and below didn’t give me the same kind of healthy happiness.
This year, I’m doing 100 Days of Real Food’s 14 Week Mini-Pledge Program and last week’s goal was to eat two fruits and veggies with every meal. This forced me to dust off a few ideas I’d used last year and further challenged me because, unlike last year, I wasn’t supposed to take advantage of snack time. Here are some tricks that could help you eat more fruits and veggies too.
Ideas to Help You Eat Six Veggies and Fruits a Day
- Add a veggie to your eggs: To me, breakfast and vegetables just doesn’t seem to go together, but I found a few ideas to help sneak a vegetable into the beginning of the day. Now, I add peppers or spinach to my eggs. I keep these in the freezer, already chopped, so I can add them quickly in the morning.
- Avocados are great anywhere: My friend, Jossie, who writes My Diabetes Blessing suggested I build an avocado, egg and English muffin sandwich. Guess what? It is AMAZING. In fact, you can add an avocado to almost any dish any time of day. They are great on salads, sandwiches, as a side dish, topping and go well with salsa, too. Plus, they’re quickly turning into a health media darling since they’re high in healthy fats.
- Replace your juice with whole fruit: My doctor recently instructed me to equate juice with soda. Since then, I’ve replaced my morning cup with a piece of fruit and have found that I tend to stay full longer. Large pieces of fruit sometimes count as two servings.
- Eat a fruit and vegetable with lunch: That takes care of two portions right there and fruit is extremely portable.
- Have a salad and a vegetable side dish with dinner: That takes care of two more servings. Add enough tomatoes or avocado to your salad and you’ve just added another serving.
- Keep lots of frozen vegetables on hand: You can mix them with stir fries, pasta dishes, and serve dinners with one serving of frozen veggies and one serving of raw veggies like carrots. This tactic makes me feel like I’m eating a greater variety. Frozen veggies are also really easy to make in the microwave.
- Have a snack: My single best advice is to replace one of your snacks with a vegetable. If you have a piece of fruit for breakfast, a veggie for a snack, fruit + vegetable for lunch, and salad + veggie for dinner, you’ve got six! I like celery with peanut butter, carrots, or other raw, portable veggies.
- Eat fruit for dessert: In college, I studied abroad in Spain and there they eat fruit (with a fork and knife) for dessert! If you can make it a habit to replace over-sweetened desserts with fruit, you’ll kill two bad habits with one stone.