Six Simple Steps to Eat More Veggies
One of the most significant things you can do to start implementing a healthier diet is to add fresh, whole foods – and more organic foods, when possible.
We’re starting with vegetables because they’re one of the foods that are typically missing in most diets (or we just don’t get enough of them) and because of all the AMAZING health benefits they offer, such as: strengthening the immune system improving liver and kidney function improving intestinal flora (good bacteria), and improving digestion.
Vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fiber, all of which are important to a healthy diet. To minimize exposure to harmful pesticides and herbicides, choosing organic produce is best. However, not everyone’s budget can afford all organics, so start with what you can afford.
Here is a link to the “Dirty Dozen”. This is a list from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) that includes the fruits and vegetables which contain the highest levels of pesticides and herbicides. Referring to this list when shopping will help you have an idea of the produce that is most important to buy organic whenever possible. Since this list changes from year to year, you may also want to sign up for updates at the EWG to be sure you always have the most current list.
You’re going to work towards your goals one step at a time, in order to fully implement each habit. This will ensure that it becomes part of your lifestyle and then, eventually, it will become second nature.
The first step starts with “ADDING IN.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? Instead of making a long list of what we CAN’T have, let’s start with foods that are good for us and add in more of those.
By ADDING IN lots of super healthy, nutrient-dense foods that give your body what it NEEDS, you will reduce cravings for empty calories, which make you feel hungry again within a short period of time, thereby making you consume even more calories.
For example: you have a delicious salad for lunch with lean protein, lots of fresh veggies and some healthy oil, you will feel good, comfortably full, and have energy, right? When you do this, the less tempting something sugary or processed is going to seem.
Our first goal is going to be to eat as many nutrient-rich foods as we can so that we crave less of the unhealthy, processed foods. This can also help with our energy levels and mood.
Remember…be brave, be adventurous! This is your chance to try new things. I remember trying kale for the first time, experimented with different recipes to find my favorites and now it’s one of my very favorite side dishes!
Try adding one or two new vegetables to your salad this week and see what you think. If you normally like romaine lettuce, have that and add some dandelion greens, Swiss chard or another new green that sounds good or interesting to you.
Vegetables can be enjoyed in a variety of ways: steamed, sautéed, eaten raw in a salad or as snacks. Vegetables make great stir fry dishes. Many make a great “green smoothie” (one of my personal favorites) and are fabulous juiced.
Add some protein and a tiny amount of healthy fat like avocado or an oil-based dressing (olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, flaxseed oil) to your salad. Adding protein, either animal based or plant based, will keep you full longer than just a salad with veggies. Your body will absorb more nutrients from the vegetables when you add a little bit of fat rather than using a fat-free dressing, which also may be stripped of other nutrients.
Six Simple Steps to Eat More Veggies
I love vegetables but most people I work with struggle with adding them to their diet. I came up with 6 different ways you could start enjoying them, so I’m sharing them with you. Coincidentally, they all start with the letter ‘S’.
- Soups - Whip up some homemade soup with veggies in broth.
- Salads - They are my personal favorite - Prepare fresh salads with dark leafy greens and 2-4 other veggies with a protein and a a healthy fat. Whip up a home made dressing with any type of vinegar, olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Smoothies - Add fresh spinach or kale to your breakfast smoothie. You will get your first service in at the beginning of your day. Super quick and easy.
- Sides - Add them as a side dish. Try grilling a big platter of veggies and eat left overs during the week. Check out our Grilled Summer Vegetable Recipe.
- Snack smart - snack on crunchy fresh veggies dipped in hummus.
- Sandwiches - Add greens, cucumber and tomato to your sandwiches. Try making lettuce wraps.
It's All About Baby Steps to Make Sustainable Long-Term Changes
Remember, the goal is to add more “real food” that your body recognizes and can absorb and utilize nutrients from.
Adding vegetables to your diet may seem like a simplistic thing to start with, but it’s an important first step and you will most likely soon notice a difference in how you feel.
If you don’t typically eat vegetables most days, you can start with a goal of 2 servings per day (a serving is between ½ and 1 cup) starting today. Work your way up to 3 or 4 servings over the next few weeks once you figure out which ones you like and can add easily.
If you already typically have 2 servings a day, kick it up to 4 servings per day, then work up to 6 which is a great goal.
Remember: these are general recommendations. You may find that you feel better eating certain vegetables, so be aware of how you feel after you eat.
- Make a list of the 8-10 veggies you and your family like most and include more of your favorites.
- Make a list of 4-6 new veggies you would like to try.
- Try at least 1 new vegetable this week.