Is eating more fruits and vegetables on your “to-do” list? Following through can be daunting, but not to worry, say nutrition experts. Eating more vegetables and fruits isn’t going to tax your cooking time or your waistline. Instead, making the switch is easy, healthful and can actually boost your efforts to maintain a normal weight.
In addition, consuming produce may play an important role in preventing obesity and Type 2 diabetes. There is a national effort to curb the problem of obesity in America. Eating more fruits and vegetables that displace high-fat, high-calorie foods is one way to do that.
Having a good attitude helps! People can get bored with ‘staple’ fruits and vegetables and how we typically prepare them. When’s the last time you tried a new fruit or vegetable, or a new cooking technique? How about grilling or roasting fruits or vegetables? How about making chutneys and salsas using fruits and vegetables?
Tasting and cooking new fruits and vegetables can be a flavor adventure for your family. Farmers markets give you the pleasure of being with your family and tasting and choosing fresh produce. You can also find more produce with some built-in convenience in supermarkets. And if you eat out, you can find more salads in fast-food restaurants.
Fresh fruits and vegetables may seem like the most healthful choice, but frozen and canned products can be just as nutritious. You can speed up dinner preparation by using such ingredients as frozen bell pepper strips, mixed stir-fry vegetables or vegetable blends for soup. Avoid vegetables with added cream or cheese sauces or fruits processed with sugar.
You can also add produce to favorite recipes you’re making anyway. Toss a little chopped pepper into an egg salad or top a sandwich with sliced tomatoes. You can even stir diced tomatoes or chopped broccoli into a macaroni and cheese casserole.
Create a shopping and cooking schedule to assure you have produce on the menu every day. For example, buy perishables such as tomatoes, strawberries and leaf lettuce to serve within a day or two. Then add broccoli, bell peppers, cabbage, apples, pears and oranges, which last in the refrigerator for a week. Finally, fill in the gaps with packages of frozen fruits and vegetables for the end of the week. This way, you can meet your goal of nine servings a day without adding more trips to the supermarket.
More is less
If you’re concerned about your weight, eating more—not less-produce is essential. Fruits and vegetables tend to be lower in calories than other food choices. For example, you can eat two small apples for the same amount of calories as a candy bar. What’s more, fruits and vegetables are rich in dietary fiber that keeps you feeling full, so you eat less.
Although it makes good nutrition sense to eat more fruits and vegetables, adjust your menus gradually. Diet and lifestyle changes that are done over a period of time are more likely to become permanent changes.