What’s “In Style” for the Spring Season? COLOR. And not just in your closet…but in your diet. However, the typical American diet color is brown, beige, boring, and nutritionally void. According to the USDA, the average American only eats around three servings of fruits and vegetables a day. And the Department of Health and Human Services guidelines state we should be eating between 5 to 13 servings of produce, depending on individual calorie requirements. To get the recommended amount, most people need to significantly increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in their diet. Research shows that fruits and vegetables are critical to promoting good health and living a long life.
The power of prevention may lie in a salad bowl or a plate of fruit. When we take advantage of fresh produce, our bodies return the favor by reducing our risk of developing various illnesses. Compared with people who consume a diet with only small amounts of fruits and vegetables, those who eat more generous amounts as part of a healthful diet are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers. If we ate more produce and fewer processed foods, we’d lose weight, clean our arteries, balance our blood sugar, and shut down a large number of hospitals.
Variety is the key when adding more fruits and vegetables into your daily diet. Eating fruits and vegetables of different colors gives your body a wide range of valuable nutrients, like fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Taste all the colors of the rainbow for maximum health benefits. Start with shades of green found in swiss chard, kale, spinach, lettuces, asparagus, green peppers, broccoli, green beans, peas, green cabbage, green onion, brussels sprouts, okra, zucchini, Chinese cabbage (nappa/ bok choy), chayote squash, endive, leeks, broccoli rabe, green apples, green grapes, honeydew melon, kiwi fruit, and limes. Bite bright with the yellow and orange found in carrots, summer squash, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, winter squash, pumpkin, yellow peppers, rutabagas, yellow tomatoes, cantaloupe, grapefruit, lemons, nectarines, oranges, peaches, pineapples, tangerines, apricots, mangoes, and papayas. Reach for red in tomatoes, tomato juice, tomato soup, red peppers, red onions, beets, red cabbage, kidney beans, red beans, red lentils, radishes, red apples, pink grapefruit, strawberries, cherries, watermelon, raspberries, cranberries, and pomegranates. Go wild with purple and blue shades with eggplant, purple belgian endive, purple grapes, plums, raisins, blueberries, blackberries, purple figs, dried plums, elderberries, and black currents. And don’t forget white found in cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, garlic, parsnips, shallots, turnips, ginger, jicama, bananas, and pears. Surprised by all the options above? That’s just the beginning; there are many more delicious foods to discover. Make it a goal to spice up your plate with variety and try new colorful fruits and vegetables regularly.
The right number of servings of fruits and vegetables for you all depends on your daily caloric intake needs. But a general goal to aim for is between 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. What counts as one serving? The United States Department of Agriculture sets a serving size for fruit or vegetables to be equal to about one-half cup. Greens like spinach and lettuce have a serving size equal to one full cup. One serving of sliced fruit is equal to one-half cup; however a single piece of fruit, such as an apple or an orange counts as one serving.
How to EAT like the Easter Bunny and get more COLOR in your diet.
Increasing your intake from two servings to seven a day doesn’t come without planning or effort. The below tips will help you get more fruits and vegetables in your diet:
- Make every meal as colorful as possible. Fruits and vegetables should be part of every meal and your first choice for a snack. Keep plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables on hand. Most eating decisions happen at the store. Think ahead and purchase healthier options when you shop. Prepare to have healthy options around 24-7. Make it a habit to pack color on your plate.
- On the go? Choose healthy prepared vegetables and fruits. Prepared veggies like bagged salads, pre-washed spinach, peeled and diced butternut squash, or washed and chopped kale are the perfect healthy options for eating well in a hurry. Snack on raw veggies like carrot sticks, celery sticks, cucumber slices, string beans, cherry tomatoes, and/or green pepper strips for a quick and healthy crunch. Munch on fresh fruit throughout the day. Grab an apple, orange, or banana on your way out the door or keep a fresh fruit bowl on your kitchen counter.
- Pack a lunch and fill it with healthy fruit and vegetable choices. Avoid using vending machines or going for fast foods or restaurant foods too often. You’ll eat better and save money.
- Blend a fruit smoothie or drink to take with you on your commute. They’re a fun and easy way to get your fruits. You can freeze your own fresh fruit or buy frozen fruit blends. Or store a smoothie in a thermos in the fridge if you’d like to make it ahead of time to drink later on. For a more savory sip, try fresh vegetable juice.
- Always make half of your dinner plate vegetables. That leaves a quarter of the plate for a healthy starch and a quarter for lean meat or fish. Plan to include at least two vegetable choices at every meal.
- When out at a restaurant, try vegetable stir-fry, vegetable fajitas, veggie wraps, or vegetable soup. Order healthy vegetable side dishes instead of calorie-laden appetizers. Or pick three or four veggie sides and create your own vegetable plate. When ordering a sandwich, ask for extra veggies such as lettuce, tomato, onions, sliced peppers or cucumbers.
- Salads are a great way to get a variety of fruits and veggies into your diet. Try to include them in as many meals as possible. Make a salad with low-fat dressing and add as many fresh vegetable or fruit toppings as you like. Make it a habit to start each dinner with a mixed green salad before you serve the main course. Not only will it help you eat more veggies, but by filling your stomach first with a nutrient-rich, low-calorie salad, there’ll be just a bit less room for the higher-calorie items that follow.
- Get creative in the kitchen. Test out new recipes and try different healthy fruit and vegetable ingredients. Become friends with the grocery store produce man or visit farmers markets for seasonal menu inspiration.
- Fill your spaghetti sauce with vegetables or make a healthy vegetable soup. Add as many healthy vegetables as you can into your pot.
- Sweeten your dessert plate with fresh fruit instead of chocolate or cake. Or try a fruit parfait instead of ice cream for a cold treat.
I challenge you to take a few tips from the Easter bunny and brighten up your bites for ultimate health. Use the above tips to get creative in the kitchen and add more color to your daily diet routine. Taste the rainbow and your body will look as good as you feel.
What are YOUR favorite ways to fit more fruits and vegetables into your day? Post your favorite tip as a comment below – share how you get your daily dose of COLOR and inspire others to eat healthier! 🙂
Other things you might want to check out this week:
- TOP training secrets to help ease SORE muscles
- My newest Take with you Total Body Circuit – Who’s tried it?! Repeat it 3 rounds through for a fantastic QUICKIE workout and work up a sweat!
- HEALTHY VS. LOW CAL . Love this post – well done Brittany!
Want to wish you and your loved ones a HAPPY, HEALTHY, and SUNNY spring Holiday. Thanks for being such a positive part of my life and for bringing me JOY everytime I teach 🙂 Cant wait to see you soon for another GREAT class!