As we get into months of experiencing life with COVID-19, is anyone else out there inching closer to what I’ve jokingly called the COVID-15? It’s funny because it’s true! If you’ve been relying on your favorite comfort foods, you know what I mean first-hand. If you have recently experienced the discomfort that comes after eating a box of cookies, or ½ pound of fudge, or the whole large pizza, or fill in your food vice here, then you know that food can impact your mood. On the flip side, maybe you have been diligent with your healthy habits and have noticed positive impacts on your physical and mental well-being. Either way, it’s clear, food is not only necessary but it also impacts your physical and emotional health.
These days, you don’t need anything else to add stress or anxiety to your life. So, what can you do to ensure your diet is not what’s keeping you down? Focus on positivity boosting fruits and veggies! Research has shown that higher intakes of produce are correlated with feeling calmer, happier, and having improved mental well-being.
Daily recommended intake for a 2000 calorie diet is 2 cups fruit and 2½ cups vegetables. What does that mean exactly?
1 cup fruit =
- 1 small piece whole fruit (like a small apple)
- ½ large piece whole fruit (like half a grapefruit)
- 1 cup chopped fruit (grapes, berries, canned fruit)
- ½ cup dried fruit (you need less because much of the water is gone!)
- 1 cup 100% fruit juice (I recommend limiting this to no more than 1 cup per day)
1 cup vegetables =
- 1 cup chopped vegetables (like sliced cucumbers or baby carrots)
- 2 cups raw leafy greens (such as arugula or lettuce)
- 1 cup cooked leafy greens (sautéed kale or frozen spinach)
- 1 cup 100% vegetable juice (choose lower sodium options)
Does getting 4½ cups of fruits and veggies seem like it’s a long way off? My recommendation is to focus on getting one extra serving than you normally do. Try to have fun with it! Here are some of my favorite ways to boost up fruits and veggies:
- Add baby or frozen spinach by large handfuls to your favorite homemade or canned soup. It wilts quickly, has a mild flavor, and brings cheerful green to your bowl.
- Load up salads, soups, eggs, pasta dishes, rice (basically everything!) with chopped fresh herbs. They add flavor and springy freshness to all meals and sides.
- Throw 2-3 cauliflower florets into your morning smoothie (you’ll just have to trust me with this one).
- Keep unsweetened dried fruits (my favorites are dates, golden raisins, and apricots) in a bag by your workstation or in the car. They are the perfect natural energy snack when you need a little boost.
- Stir unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana into your morning oats to add natural sweetness.
- Blend frozen fruit and 100% fruit juice together. Freeze in popsicle molds or paper Dixie cups for a cool treat as the weather warms.
What are your favorite ways to boost your mood with fruits and veggies? We’d love to see your tips! Share on social, #haveaplant