“Eat your greens” is a line almost everyone can remember being told as a child. As adults it’s still just as important, but often neglected.
Vegetables, including leafy greens have an abundance of essential nutrients including potassium, folate, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C, and are also a rich source of dietary fiber and antioxidants, with no significant calories or fat.
Regardless of knowing the health benefits associated with vegetables, most people still struggle to incorporate a substantial amount into their diet. Of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s recommendation of 2-3 cups of vegetables daily, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that Americans aren’t getting enough vegetables, with the average adult eating only 1.6 servings (cups) a day.
Here are five tips to help you “green” up your diet:
Tip #1: Include Vegetables in Every Meal
Meals are typically focused upon whatever protein (meat) is being served, with the vegetable sides being the last to consider – if at all. But because vegetables play such an important part of a well-balanced diet, the USDA’s MyPlate recommends filling at least half of your plate with fruits and vegetables.
Eating the same veggies week after week becomes more of a chore than a culinary experience, so try new ones every now and again. Vegetables come in different colors, textures and tastes, and offer a variety of nutrients – and you may discover a new favorite, or two! It’s all about finding what you like!
Tip #2: Double Up On Leafy Greens
Eating healthy usually goes hand in hand with eating smaller portions, but when it comes to leafy green vegetables, doubling up is actually a good thing. Adding more leafy greens to your plate will provide you with important micronutrients without adding substantial calories or fat, and fiber to help make you feel full longer.
Tip #3: Keep Veggies On Hand for Smart Snacking
If you like to snack throughout the day, rather than go for chips or crackers which have unhealthy sugars and fats, keep some of your favorite veggies on hand. Plan ahead. The night before, cut up your favorite veggies (even those that are non-green) – carrots and celery, broccoli, cauliflower, or red bell pepper – and distribute them in a few ziplock baggies. Take them with you to work, or to school, or wherever, and curb your hunger the healthy way.
Tip #4: Keep Vegetables Visible
It’s true what they say, out of sight really is out of mind. If you have a tendency to forget about the veggies because they’re in the bottom drawer of your refrigerator, then put them where you can see them. Move them to the top shelf of the fridge. Or put some in a bowl on the counter to snack on throughout the day. Keeping healthful options accessible and visible could be the change needed to replace those unhealthy eating habits.
Tip #5: Add Vegetables to Your Smoothies and Shakes
Adding greens like spinach and kale to your smoothies and protein shakes is the perfect way to sneak in a serving or two of veggies for that day. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how little it affects the flavor, though you might have to get used to the funky green color, lol!
These tips for adding more vegetables to your diet are quick and easy, and can bring profound benefits. In fact, research has shown that getting plenty of vegetables including leafy greens is linked to lower body weight, better cardiovascular health, and a healthier life overall.
Check out the recipe section for some delicious vegetarian recipes that even finicky eaters will love! And if you’d like more information on how you can incorporate leafy greens and other veggies into your diet, please contact me here, or on my Facebook page. I’d love to chat!