Eat your plants!
More specifically eat your vegetables! I’m not suggesting you ditch all your meat or go vegan, I’m suggesting you aim to increase your intake of vegetables on a daily basis.
Eat them raw, steamed, grilled, or roasted. Even juice a few if you like! The point is, aim to increase your intake of vegetables from your current intake to around 10 cups per day. Key Point: You don’t have to go from zero to 10 in one day, one week or even one month, you just need to try to get more in then you are currently consuming.
Not a fan of vegetables? Well keep looking and keep trying different veggies that are prepared in different ways. I dare you to try them all!
It’s ok to stick with your fav’s but make a point to try a new one each week or step outside your comfort zone a bit. Increasing the variety of vegetables will increase your nutrient intake and the spectrum of nutrients that you are intaking. Plants have these cool compounds called phytonutrients which support the immune system in our body. I bet you can name a few: beta- carotene, comes from carrots and other orange/yellow foods and is good for your eye health. Lycopene- comes from tomatoes and is a great cardio protective antioxidant. And there are others. Want to know more, read this and check out this great infographic from Precision Nutrition.
Still not convinced about the glory of plants? It’s not about the calories with plants its about the micronutrients. These micronutrients are essential for our health and well-being and the best place to get the majority of these are from plants, aka vegetables. These are going to help keep you healthy, reduce risk of disease and illness and best of all make you feel great. Additionally they not only do they contain the antioxidants and bioflavanoids mentioned above, but they also contain elements like water, fibre which are key to a healthy diet.
How to get started increasing your vegetable intake?
- Identify how many servings of vegetables you are eating currently on a daily basis. For ease, lets say 1 tennis ball = 1 serving.
- Next set a small but achievable goal. Ie increase your intake of vegetables by 1-2 servings per day.
- Keep track using an app, pen and paper or email yourself.
- At the end of 2 weeks, evaluate if you are meeting that goal successfully or not.
- If yes, great, keeping going on that trend.
- If not, figure out why? Are you purchasing veggies in your grocery shopping? Are you pre-washing/pre-cutting? Is this too much work? Buy them washed and chopped already so they are ready to eat. Pack your veggies with your lunch and snacks if applicable. When eating out look for options with the most veggies or ask for extra veggies.