Do you eat enough fruit and veggies every day? If you’re like me, you want to eat fruit and veggies. You plan to eat them. You even buy lots of fresh produce at the grocery store every week. You imagine the salads you will make. The soups you will cook. The apple pies you will bake. Before you know it, the week has gone by and the fruit and veggies are still sitting in your fridge looking kind of sad. You throw them out and start all over again. Sound familiar?
As much as I want to, I find it hard to eat my fruit and veggies every day. I know they’re good for me and I like eating them. I really do. But, life gets busy. Lately, I’ve been wondering how much is enough? Maybe I’m doing better than I think. According to ChooseMyPlate.gov,¹ adults need about 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables daily. For example, on a typical day you would need to eat about 1 small apple, 8 large strawberries, 1 medium baked potato, 1 cup of cooked spinach, and 12 baby carrots. Hmmm, that doesn’t sound like very much but I’m pretty sure I don’t pull that off every day. Do you? If you answered no, then you’re not alone. Just over one third of American adults get the recommended amount of fruit and just under a third eat enough vegetables.²
Tip #1: Cut up fruit and veggies and put them out where people (including yourself) will see them. One thing that I always find interesting is that people (adults and kids) will not go into the fridge to get a whole apple or a whole fruit or vegetable of any kind. But, if you cut up an apple and leave it on the table, then it will get eaten. Slice up fresh strawberries and watch a big bowl of them magically disappear. Make a quick salad and watch everyone happily eat it with dinner. Put blueberries on top of pancakes on Sunday morning. Poof! They’re gone. It’s almost like we forget how much we love fruit and veggies until they are right in front of us and ready to eat.
Tip #2: Keep it simple. A salad and a sweet potato for lunch. A side dish of steamed spinach with chicken for dinner. A couple of hard boiled eggs and a banana for breakfast. Fresh blueberries in oatmeal. Find easy ways to insert fruit and veggies into every meal.
Tip #3: Don’t completely deprive yourself of the occasional “bad-for-you” treat. Once in a while it’s ok to treat yourself to something reeaaallllyyy bad! You have to allow yourself the occasional cookie, chocolate cake, powdered donut, or root beer float (not all at once!). It is hard to sustain a diet of only “healthy” foods. (Confession: I really wanted to find a way to include a picture of a baked good even though this is a post about fruit and veggies. Since it is a blueberry muffin, I decided it is ok. 🙂 )
Tip #4: Check out your local farmer’s market. To me, there is a noticeable difference in the fruit and vegetables that you buy in a farmer’s market compared to the grocery store. I am more likely to eat them because they taste so good. When you buy produce from a farmer’s market, you feel like you are eating fruit and veggies that just came out of the earth. They look and taste fresher and have more flavor. I often find that the stuff in the grocery store doesn’t taste like anything. Who wants to eat a tasteless tomato? Being at a farmer’s market feels like being a kid in a candy store. So many beautiful fruit and vegetables and interesting things to try. When you get home, you can’t resist your new-found treasures.
Tip #5: Just do it. My biggest obstacle is that I get lazy. It’s easier to eat something that is pre-packaged and ready to go, like cereal. And I think it will take too long to make a salad or chop up some vegetables. I can even talk myself out of taking a few minutes to rinse off blueberries for my cereal. But, once I get started and do it, it takes me no time at all. And I am glad I did it because it tastes good and it is good for me.
So, there you go. Those are some of my tricks for eating more fruit and veggies. I still have a ways to go, but I find that I do better when I follow these tips. What’s happening in your world? What gets in the way of you eating your fruit and veggies? Do you have your own tips and tricks? I would love to hear about your experiences.
I am not a dietician or nutritional expert. These are my opinions based on my own experiences and on what I have found works for me. All opinions are my own.
¹ChooseMyPlate.gov has lots of information on recommended amounts of daily fruits and vegetables (and other foods). I kept it simple above, but the amount you need to eat daily varies by age, sex, and level of physical activity. Check out their more detailed charts for fruit and vegetables if you are interested.
²This statistic is based on findings from a 2009 CDC survey that you can find here.