Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month? That makes it the perfect time to make conscious choices to improve your personal nutrition. A great way to start is by increasing the amount of vegetables you eat – you should work your way to have five servings a day, even though you may not like them, at first.
Why Veggies?Why are they so Important?
You may wonder why the focus is on consuming vegetables over fruit. In comparison to vegetables, fruit is more energy dense. If you eat the same volume of fruit as vegetables, you will consume more calories by eating the fruit. Additionally, fruit has a higher sugar content than vegetables do, and that can work against you if you’re working toward fat-loss goals. The high sugar content can also leave some people with sugar ups and downs that don’t result from eating vegetables. Eating a lot of veggies will have you eating less sugar with fewer calories, while consuming more fiber and nutrients, which will also keep you feeling fuller for a longer period after eating.
There are other great things about eating your veggies, too. Vegetables contain essential vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals (plant chemicals) and antioxidants. All of these nutrients are required by our bodies not so much for energy (fat, protein and other carb sources are much better at providing direct energy), but to facilitate all of the major functions our bodies perform.
Are you frequently sick with one cold after another?
Do you know someone who constantly seems to be fighting a cold or seems to go from one bout of the flu to the next? While they are getting enough energy to stay alive, their body systems aren’t getting the vitamins, minerals and naturally-occurring enzymes required to function properly. As a result, over time, a lot of the key processes and systems, like immune function, diminish in quality or fail altogether.
You won’t go hungry because you’re eating healthy – focus on adding more ‘real food’ to your diet – especially veggies! If you focus on what you CAN have instead of what you can’t have, you’ll find ways to make the healthy items more appealing to you. First, it’s important to know what comprises a full serving of veggies. A full serving of vegetables is the size of your fist – I mentioned this in my blog about protein. You can make it really easy by selecting five veggies from this list, and eat a fist-full of each one every day. There are so many different types of vegetables and different ways to prepare them, that there’s no need for it to be mundane or boring. Try different things – you may be surprised to discover how many different veggies you enjoy!
Novice to Veggies?
You can transition slowly into the habit of eating the right amount of veggies. If you’re a novice to eating veggies, incorporate some fruit into your day to make it easier. A fist-sized amount is also considered a single serving of fruit. There are also so many fruits you can choose from to add variety.
Aim to increase the amount of green, leafy veggies you consume. Spinach can be hidden in smoothies or omelets, and there are a variety of healthy ways to make salads more interesting.
A great way to enjoy more veggies (and fruit) is to attend a famer’s market to select a variety of fresh options. Opt for organic varieties whenever possible.
Here are some specific ways to add more fruit and veggies into your daily diet.
For Your Veggies
Spinach – Start using it in salads by mixing it with other greens or even just with romaine lettuce. Cook it and add it to a stir fry or to stews, scrambled eggs or soup. Add it to your protein smoothie. You can even mix some with a bit of water and process in a blender to make a paste, freeze the paste in ice cube trays and use the ‘spinach ice cubes’ when making your smoothies.
Mix It Up – Make your stews, soups, stir fry, chilli, and tomato sauces with peppers, onions, celery mushrooms and tomatoes. You can also add these to omelettes or quiches; you can cut them up to make a veggie tray and make your own dip or dressing with Greek yogurt and your favourite seasonings to add some protein.
Make Slaw – This works well with more durable veggies, such as carrots, cabbage, zucchini, rutabaga and apples. Grate them up, toss in a handful of nuts, a spoonful of Greek yogurt and a spoonful strong mustard with a pinch of salt to make a healthy and savoury slaw.
Mix and Match – Use different combinations to find new things you like. Try this to make your own salsa, or your own mix of veggies – like sliced tomatoes and cucumbers with a sprinkle of dill and vinegar.
Cooking Methods – Try different ways of cooking, including steaming, baking with seasoning, sautéing, barbecuing in tinfoil, or grilling.
Frozen Veggies – So many vegetables can be cut up and frozen to make your own favourite blends of frozen, mixed veggies. Combine with cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, beans, peas, onions or mushrooms.
Incorporate Some Fruits
Fruit Freeze – You can also freeze fruit. If it’s a type of fruit that goes mushy, they are perfect to freeze and use in smoothies, or for baking into breads or muffins.
Make Salad – Many fruits can be cut up and tossed together to make a delicious, fresh fruit salad.
Warm Fruit – Fruit can be warmed up and used as a glaze or made into homemade jam.
Mix It In – Mixing some fruit into oatmeal, cottage cheese or Greek yogurt is a great way to add extra flavour and sweetness, while adding additional nutrition.
Drink Up – Add some fruit slices or berries into a glass of water. Use frozen fruit instead of ice cubes to chill your water while adding flavour.
Add to Meats – Apples, pears, plums or peaches can be tucked into chicken breasts or pork tenderloin before roasting.
Make Curry – Mangoes and peaches are the perfect additions to a curry dish.
It’s simple to add the nutritional value of veggies and fruit to your diet – once you’ve done it consciously for a while, it will be a habit that you don’t even have to think about anymore. You’ll be enjoying new foods and meal creations, all while your body is benefiting from the increased nutrition. And there’s no better time to start than during National Nutrition Month!
If you have questions, then let’s connect. Book yourself a pressure-free, 20 minute Fitness Breakthrough session. I will help figure out what you need in order to become stronger and healthier version of yourself.
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