By Margaret Phillips, Guest Blogger (See below for more about Margaret)
When we eat the correct amounts of fruits and veggies each day, it helps stabilize our emotional and physical health. That’s because our bodies are getting the nutrients it needs. I realize that seems like a no brainer, but sometimes we need to be reminded of what we already know.
For example, if you are lacking magnesium in your diet, it can lead to or increase depression, headaches, fatigue, muscle cramps, and many other illnesses and dysfunctions. Dark leafy greens are a good source of magnesium, so eat up!
Are you at risk or have a family history of heart disease or stroke? The potassium in fruit can reduce those risks. Are you suffering from a cold? One cup of cooked broccoli has as much vitamin C as an orange and contains potassium, vitamin K, folate, and fiber.
Headaches are sometimes caused by dehydration. Another nutritive call for potassium! According to New Jersey Registered Dietician Enid Palinski, a baked potato (with the skin) is one of the most impressive sources of potassium, containing a surprising 721 mg. In comparison, a banana contains about 467 mg.
Do you have stomach issues such as gas, bloating, or constipation? Then you might want to add raspberries or blackberries to your diet. One cup of either of these berries have 8 grams of fiber, which helps regulate digestion.
There are plenty of delicious healthy choices. And once you start to explore what’s at your farmer’s market or grocery store, your taste buds and body will thank you for it!
But how many fruits and veggies do we need to eat every day? The current recommendation by the USDA is five to nine servings. You’re probably thinking, “Is that a typo? That must be a typo.” If you’re like most of us, the first time you hear the updated recommendation, you may also be thinking, “There’s no way I can do that.”
Here’s the good news. Yes, you can do that! First, realize that five to nine includes fruits and veggies combined. So, you can breathe a little easier now.
Second, if you’re a person who struggles with getting to this number, start slowly and no beating yourself up allowed. Challenge yourself to eat one fruit or veggie EVERY day at EVERY meal for one week. Then, do it for a second week. Continue to do this for six weeks and then add a fruit or veggie for snacks and follow the same challenge pattern.
I know for a lot of people, time can be an obstacle when it comes to getting enough veggies and fruits. A great way to help this is to prepare your produce for a couple of days all at once and have them in a grab-and-go container or sack. If it’s already washed, cut up (if needed), and put into a container, you can grab them before you go on that day trip or when you know you will be having a late dinner due to your schedule. This is great if you have kids, because they can just grab them when they want, and you don’t have to be their on-demand chef.
You also don’t have to worry about them filling up on unhealthy foods when they are snacking. Fruits and veggies you prepare ahead of time can also be used for a quick TV or reading snack. If you have a craving for something crunchy, peppers, carrots, broccoli and celery can both help satisfy your craving, and get some extra veggies into your diet.
Fruits make fantastic desserts or even good treats for curbing the sweet cravings. While we still have our calorie-laden sweets from time to time, I have been teaching my girls the best dessert after any meal is a sweet fruit. My favorite summer dessert is a sweet juicy, plum. With some patience and resilience, you can eat your fruits and veggies and get to the right number.
Thank you Margaret! Great article.
So how about you? Are you, like Margaret, able to get in all five to nine servings each day? If not, how many? (Congratulate yourself for eating even one each day, for now.) Tell us your tricks and tips for getting more veggies and fruits in your diet, by leaving your comment in the section below.