Your grandma was right. Eat your vegetables.
We coach our clients to eat colourful fruits and/or vegetables at every meal. Fruits and vegetables are a staple food in almost any diet because they are nutrient dense and low in calories.
They also contain many important micronutrients like vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. These are not only essential for everyday functions (i.e. metabolism, immune system), but research has shown links to obesity, cardiovascular disease and other diseases in those with vitamin and mineral deficiencies. To add to that (although more research is needed), phytochemicals help to fight off cancer and other diseases.
If that wasn't enough to win you over, fruits and vegetables are high in fibre. By increasing your fruit and vegetable intake you will better be able to regulate blood sugar levels (more sustained energy throughout the day) and stay fuller longer (which will help you to maintain a healthy body weight).
How much do I need?
Canada's Food Guide suggests 7-10 servings for men and women between the ages of 19-50 and 7 servings for anyone over 50. An optimal amount is 10-12 servings of colourful fruit and vegetables per day. As a bare minimum, aim for at least 5 servings per day.
How much is a serving?
The easiest and most practical way of measuring a serving is to use your fist.
1 fist = 1 serving.
Shoot for 2-4 servings per meal to more easily hit your goal of 10-12 per day.
If fat-loss is your goal, maintain a ratio of 5:1 vegetables to fruits. Although fruit is considered a healthy option, they are high in energy and sugars. So in other words, we don't want to stop eating fruit, but you do want to maintain a certain ratio if you're looking to lose fat.
What counts as a colourful fruit/vegetable?
- raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, etc.
- bell peppers
- swiss chard
- onions, garlic
- green beans
- brussels sprouts
What about corn, Potatoes, Lentils, etc.?
Don't count foods like corn, potatoes, rice, etc. towards this. These grains and starchy carbs fit into a separate category we like to call smart carbs. That's a topic for another blog post.
What if I don't like vegetables?
You need to learn how to cook better...
Once you do, you'll find many ways to enjoy vegetables. You probably just need to expand your repertoire.
Different ways to cook vegetables;
- stir fried
- in shakes
- in omelettes.
Some of our clients find it tough to fit 10-12 servings into their day. Here are some ways we like sneaking in more vegetables;
- throw in an extra handful of spinach (or 2) into your smoothie (you wont even notice it)
- eat raw vegetables as snacks with hummus or guacamole
- use powdered veggies greens between meals.
- Completely fill your morning omelette up with veggies.
But wait, can't I just get the same benefits from supplements?
The answer is no. Although supplements are handy at times, they should never be a replacement for whole foods. The vitamins and minerals found in supplements are counterfeit versions of what nature designed for us. The impact of these micronutrients from food are shown to have a much greater impact on our health than that which comes from supplements.
Also, it is believed that most micronutrients work best in combination with other micronutrients that are conveniently found in whole foods. Supplements should simply fill the voids from our daily food intake. First work to improve what you eat, then start looking at supplements.
One more thing.
Fruit and vegetable crops found today are not what they once were. With mass production comes depleted soils. Soils that haven't had the chance to replenish produce crops with less vitamin and mineral content.
So a head of broccoli decades ago, would be more beneficial than one today. That is one reason why some have made the argument that we simply need to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Everyone is starting from a different place. First work your way up to 5 servings per day, consistently. Then try adding in another serving every week or so until you get up to the desired 10-12 servings.
Find ways to be creative with how you cook and prepare your fruits and vegetables and you'll enjoy them much more. Not only that but your body will thank you for it and it will reward you with more energy, less hunger cravings and looser fitting clothes.
Committed to your success,
The Evertrain Team
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