There’s no time like the present to begin taking care of your health. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), along with the Produce for Better Health Foundation has declared September, 2010 as “Fruit and Veggies – More Matters Month.” The purpose is to encourage individuals to increase their fruit and vegetable consumption through eating a variety of fruits and vegetables each day.
Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are part and parcel of a well balanced diet. They provide essential vitamins and dietary fiber; and are low in calories. There is also a link between high fruit and vegetable consumption and a reduced risk of developing certain diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
Unfortunately, many individuals find it difficult to incorporate fruits, vegetables and whole grains into their health maintenance plan. Healthy foods don’t have to be scary, they can be fun!
Ten ways to add more fruits, veggies and whole grains to your diet:
1. Keep washed fruit on your office desk or kitchen countertop in order to remind yourself to eat your fruit.
2. Add apples, bananas, strawberries, raisins and peaches to your morning oatmeal or yogurt.
3. Eat fruit for dessert – baked apples or pears are especially tasty.
4. Toss chickpeas, garbanzo beans or string beans into your mixed greens salad
5. Add fresh or frozen veggies to your soup or whole wheat pasta dishes.
6. Use precut fruits and veggies as snacks.
7. Make at least one meal a week vegetarian – ex. “Meat free Mondays.”
8. Snack on homemade salsa w/ carrots or celery instead of chips and dip.
9. Try a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread instead of the same old pb and j.
10. Use fruit salads as a way of experimenting with new fruit combinations.
Once you’ve figured out how to incorporate more fruit and vegetables into your diet, you need to make sure that you’re eating proper portion sizes of your new favorite treats.
1/2 cup (chopped or sliced), 1 small apple, 1/2 of a large fruit (like grapefruit) or 1oz. of dried fruit constitute one portion. Visually, 1/2 cup is approximately the size of your fist or a baseball while 1 oz. is approximately the size of a golf ball.
1/2 cup of denser vegetables like corn, string beans, peas or broccoli is considered one portion. While one portion of leafy greens such as kale, collard, turnip or mustard is 1 cup. Visually, 1/2 cup is approximately the size of a baseball.
1 cup of cereal, 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta, or 1 slice of bread all constitute one serving of a whole grain. Visually, 1 serving of whole grains is approximately the size of a CD (bread) or baseball.
As you can see, adding more fruits and veggies to your diet is not difficult and your body will thank you for years to come.