Do you struggle with getting enough vegetables into your family’s diet?
How about fruit? Everyone likes fruit, right?
Well…according to data collected by the CDC, the average American eats only 1.1 servings of fruit (including fruit juice) and 1.6 servings of vegetables (including fried potatoes) per day.
I have to admit, I was a little shocked. This is nowhere near the current government health recommendations of 5-7 servings per day.
Plus, many integrative health experts believe we need a lot more than that to optimize your health, support detoxification, and prevent chronic disease.
So…how Many Vegetables Do You REALLY Need per Day?
If you ask a traditional dietician or medical doctor, they’ll likely recommend 5-7 servings per day of fruits and vegetables.
They may even tell you to count fruit juices, canned fruits, and processed foods like French fries towards that number.
Now, if you sit down with a Functional Medicine doctor or holistic nutritionist, you will get an entirely different story…and one that could save your life.
I recommend patients aim for 7-10 servings of vegetables per day and 3 servings of fruit. Unprocessed, and preferably fresh or prepared from fresh.
Because many of the modern daily toxicities we face can be largely negated by the amazing nutrients, antioxidants, polyphenols, fibers, enzymes, and other protective properties found in plants.
Specifically in vegetables, which is what we will focus on today.
Plus, vegetables are cheap compared to most processed foods, they are easy to come by, and can provide us with all the nutrients we need to live a healthy, long life.
Plus the science backs me up….
You can Reduce Your Risk of Mortality by Nearly Half by Eating Enough Vegetables
A recently study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found you can reduce your risk of “all cause mortality” (AKA dying from anything), 42% by eating 7 servings of vegetables and fruits per day, with more evidence leaning toward the benefits of vegetable consumption.
Add to this the mountain of research available on the protective and disease-fighting benefits of vegetables and fruits, and suddenly the benefits of “eating the rainbow” are impossible to deny.
Now onto the BIG question…how the heck do you squeeze 10 servings of fruits and vegetables into your day without quitting your day job (or being cast out by your family)?
Here are 15 No-Brainer ways to get enough veggies…without becoming a slave to your nutrition
- Eat More Chocolate Desserts—specifically, vegetable-enhanced-chocolate desserts. Some of my favorites are these easy recipes for Sweet Potato Chocolate Pudding or Avocado Chocolate Mousse.
- Try a spiralizer—a spiralizer lets you turn squash, beets, zucchini, and other veggies into beautiful long pasta-like strands. Children also tend to eat more veggies if they look like noodles.
You can pick one up at your local kitchen store or Amazon.com for under $20.00.
- Snack often—I am 100% pro-snacking. When practiced mindfully, it supports healthy blood sugar, reduces stress, and helps nourish your body.
- Buy cucumbers in bulk—your secret weapon in getting children to eat vegetables. You can blend them up with watermelon to make popsicles, or try my kid-friendly Cucumber Detox Smoothie for the win.
- Have a salad with lunch and dinner—but branch out from mixed greens. Try green beans with vinaigrette, asparagus salad with Caesar dressing, or this “Melt in Your Mouth Kale Salad” from Food Babe…yum!
- Have a green smoothie daily—this is my favorite veggie “hack” because it’s so easy, delicious, and can easily pack 3 servings of enzyme-rich fresh veggies into your day. I’ve been addicted to using my Nutribullet because its super handy and quick.
Check out my post: Everything You Need to Know About Green Smoothies for the ins and outs of creating quick, easy, energy-boosting green drinks.
- Enjoy seasonal hot or cold soups with your meals—vegetable-based soups can count as 1-3 servings of veggies. And, when taken with lunch or dinner, can aid digestion AND help you eat less at mealtimes.
- Fill your sauces and dips with veggies—Jaime Oliver’s Full of 7 Veg Tomato Sauce is always a hit, plus you can get creative with pestos, chimichurris, salsas, hummus, baba ganoush, guacamole, and other vegetable-based sauces.
- Use avocados as a creamy base for dressings, sauces, smoothies, desserts—avocados are naturally creamy, neutral-tasting, and nutrition-packed. Even just 1/4 of an avocado added to your dressing, will go a long way toward good health.
- Make your own snack bars—canned pumpkin makes an excellent base for homemade snack bars. Check out this recipe for no-bake Whole Food Simply Snack Bars and try it for yourself.
- Pass the Pickles!—fermenting or pickling your vegetables is an awesome way to add variety AND enjoy them as a condiment. These easy Lacto-Fermented Dilly Carrot Sticks are a big hit at my house.
- Rethink Raw Veggies—think beyond your typical crudité platter of carrots, celery, and cucumbers.
Raw sweet potatoes and jicama are excellent cut into sticks, sugar snaps or snow peas are always a hit with kids, raw green beans are crunchy and sweet, and spicy daikon or other radishes are great for dipping.
- Make a rainbow chart—the idea here is to encourage your kids to eat fruits and veggies from all colors of the rainbow daily. Make it fun by awarding them with stickers and other prizes when they eat well.
- Grate zucchini and yellow squash into everything—these two vegetables are mild in flavor and easy to “disguise” for picky eaters. Add them to sauces, rice, meatballs…anything.
- Finally, relax about it! If you’re constantly counting your veggies and stressing out over portions you’re defeating the purpose. Instead, try adding one more serving of veggies to your diet a week by using one of the tips above.
Before you know it, getting 7 servings of veggies and 3 servings of fruit a day will be a delicious no-brainer.