With any new year or season of life, we all look for ways to maximize our foods to do the most for our bodies and overall health. Instead of making resolutions that may seem short term, unattainable or a pain to manage, I would instead encourage you to focus on ONE major lifestyle change that can not only be the most rewarding but may also be the easiest and most sustainable goal you have ever come across.
So, what’s one key goal for a nourishing year? Add MORE food to your daily routine – you heard that right! Whatever your goal or resolution, hearing this may make you have more questions, so let me explain.
The foods you can eat more of, and in some cases as much as you want, are fruits and vegetables.
Why You Should Eat More Fruits & Vegetables
If you live in the US, chances are you fall into the 97% of people who do not meet the recommended (and already low) daily fiber intake goal. This simply translates into not eating enough plant foods, including fruits and vegetables.
Adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet is a win across the board for multiple reasons:
- They can be relatively inexpensive by volume compared to other foods.
- They are low in calories and high in nutrients.
- They not only feed you, but they also feed the microbes that live in and on you.
All of this can translate into a healthier body composition, a healthier gut and immune system, a reduction of chronic disease risk, and so much more.
Here’s How You Can Eat More Fruits & Vegetables
As an Integrative Registered Dietitian for over a decade, here are some of the ways I have found the most success with adding and eating more fruits and vegetables:
Make Them Your First Thought
Non-starchy fruits and vegetables (berries, celery, tomatoes, cruciferous veggies, etc.) should be the first thought and first ingredient when it comes to your snacks and meals. If you make them the most abundant items on your plate, you are likely to have a healthy body composition, GI tract, and much more.
Add Them To Everything
Having oatmeal for breakfast? Pair it with blueberries or strawberries. Making soup? Throw in onions, celery, carrots, cabbage, etc. Veggie-lovers pizza anyone? Add all the veggies you can as toppings. Making pasta? Well, your pasta sauce can be loaded with vegetables and the sauce itself is made from one of my favorite fruits, tomatoes. Making your pasta with a legume-based option (like my favorite, ZENB Pasta) is another great way to add more veggies to favorite foods you may already be eating. ZENB is unique in that it is made with 100% whole yellow peas – a mighty legume and budding superfood that delivers added nutritional value of plants plus whatever good stuff you mix in. Win, win.
Fresh, frozen, jarred, or canned. All of these are great ways to get nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables into your regular routine while retaining most of the good stuff. Despite what you may hear online, frozen or jarred fruits and vegetables still have amazing nutrition and allow you to keep you freezer or pantry stocked up.
Know Where To Find Them
The easiest way to get the freshest, cheapest, and in-season fruits and vegetables would be to visit your local farmers market. This is a great way to meet and support your community and farmers, and it can be fun for the entire family. Plus it gives you the added benefit of knowing exactly where your fruits and veggies came from.
Fruits and vegetables are the key to a nutrient rich diet but they should (and can!) be fun to eat too. Practicing these tips is an easy and approachable way for anyone to incorporate more plants into their meals so you can be naturally nourished and feel your best every day.