Skinny Girl Tip of the Week: Fruits and Veggies.
Did you know that the #1 most consumed vegetable in the U.S. is the French fry? It’s even the most common vegetable given to children, down to age 2! It’s no wonder we have an obesity epidemic.
The recommended daily intake of fruits is 2-4 servings, and veggies is 3-5. Do a quick self check about how many servings you usually get. If you meet the recommendation, pat yourself on the back. The fact is that most of us don’t get anywhere near that.
The biggest problem that causes for weight is this: If you’re not getting your calories from fruits and vegetables, you’re getting them from somewhere else. And 500 calories a day in fruits and vegetables is not the same as 500 calories a day in donuts and potato chips. For one, fruits and veggies are pretty low calorie, so you can eat more for less, so to speak. Also, they are filled with fiber and water, so they will keep hunger at bay much longer than a donut. And the most important reason; fruits and vegetables are full of the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Vitamins and minerals that keep your immune system strong, your brain functioning, your muscles healthy, and even your organs and skin doing great. Donuts and chips are filled with sugar and fat. Not the same effect on your body.
The good news is, your lack of fruits and vegetables is easy to fix. Make a commitment to add at least one fruit or vegetable to every meal. That doesn’t meet the recommendation, but it’s a whole lot better than nothing. If you’re really committed, have one at snack time, and add two to a meal when you can. Fresh is best of course, but not always possible, so frozen or canned is good too. Just remember that when they’re frozen, try to avoid the microwave – it depletes nutrients; and when buying canned, buy it canned in 100% juice or light syrup. I’m allergic to most fresh fruits and vegetables, so what I’m not allergic to I eat fresh, everything else I buy canned or frozen. And let’s face it, sometimes it’s just convenience.
Now, I know all the reasons you’re not getting them. You’re busy, they’re expensive, they go bad quickly, some of them are fattening, you don’t like them… I could go on. But instead I’ll tell you why these reasons aren’t reasons, just excuses.
You’re busy – It takes less time to peel a banana then it does to get a twinkie, or even a granola bar, out of the box and unwrap it. It takes even less time to pick up an apple and just start eating.
They’re expensive – Um, a can of fruit is about a dollar. Some places less than that. And you can get a bag of frozen fruits or veggies anywhere from $1 – $3 (sometimes more), depending on the size. Fresh fruits and vegetables are, unfortunately, on the expensive side. But if you think of it I in terms of what you’re saving in future medical bills, it puts things in perspective. Not to mention the pricelessness of feeling better, looking better, and teaching your family good eating habits, so that your kids don’t have to do this later. I mean, if someone could make you thin and healthy if you paid them $500, would you? Thought so. Oh, and you’ll be buying less junk, so it pretty much evens out.
They go bad quickly – If you buy them and don’t eat them they are going to go bad. So you have to actually eat them. If they do tend to go bad before you can eat all of them, cook veggies into a meal or sauté them by themselves (in a small amount of extra virgin olive oil! Not butter!). Fruits can go into pancakes, smoothies, or deserts. Even if you don’t plan on eating them right after cooking them, they can be frozen. Easy dinner sides on a rough day! Start off small with fresh produce, and if you use it all, you can more each week. Keep canned and frozen produce on hand for when you run out. They never go bad J
Some of them are fattening – When I hear someone say “I can’t eat avocado, it goes straight to my thighs.” I want to slap them. Um, honey, if you have extra weight, it’s not from a vegetable. It’s from the mayonnaise, and salad dressing, and cheese sauce, and deep fried whatever around the vegetable. You can’t get fat from vegetables!! Do avocados and other vegetables have fat? Yes. But it is an entirely different kind of fat than what’s in your mayonnaise. This kind of fat is good for you. It goes straight to your brain and muscles, not your thighs. You actually need the good kind of fat to lose the bad kind of fat. And it has the added benefit of being good for your heart and brain. It’s Omega-3. You can also get this from nuts, seeds, and fish (and olive oil!)
You don’t like them – Here in America, we tend to stick to our comfort zone when it comes to food, produce included. We don’t think outside the box of apples, oranges, bananas, carrots, broccoli, and peas. There are sooo many different kinds of fruits and vegetables. There are bound to be some that you like, you just have to do a little searching. Try the ones you don’t recognize. Make a fruit salad or a smoothie. Drizzle some chocolate over those strawberries (in modest amounts). The health benefit of the strawberries outweighs the detriment of the chocolate calories, if you’re careful. Besides, did you know that chocolate is good for you?
I’ll post a list of fruit combinations and toppings I love later in the week. For now I’m just going to warn you to be really careful with the salad dressing. Drop it all together if you can. If you have to have a dressing, use olive oil and lime, or balsamic vinegar, which are actually good for you.
So, eat at least one fruit or vegetable with every meal. Don’t worry about it being canned, fresh, or frozen. Just be careful with those syrups and get your vitamins and fiber! Oh, and don’t forget to give them to your kids, too!
Disclaimer: I am not a food scientist or a doctor. Everything I know I have read from magazines like Glamour, Redbook, and Cosmo; or on various websites. In other words, I’m a nerd and I read a lot.