Almost 91% of South Carolinians do not eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables according to a 2009 CDC Indicator report.
So today, I share with you 4 ways to actually eat the recommended amount of veggies. But before I can there's a few questions we must answer...
1. What's the actual vegetable recommendation?
We can't figure out how to eat more of them if we don't know how many we're supposed to eat. According to the USDA, women ages 19-50 years old should eat 2 ½ cups and women 51+ years should eat at least 2 cups a day.
According to the USDA, men ages 19-50 years old should eat 3 cups and men 51+ years should eat at least 2 ½ cups a day.
2. What’s considered a vegetable?
- Starchy veggies: potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, yucca, winter squash etc.
- Non-starchy veggies: cucumber, tomato, onion, Brussel sprouts, kale, eggplant etc.
- Beans, peas and lentils
3. What does a veggie serving look like?
1 cup of raw or cooked veggies = one serving
2 cups raw leafy greens = one serving, such as different lettuces, uncooked kale or fresh herbs.
Veggies can be eaten raw, cooked, frozen, dried or canned. Doesn’t matter.
Now we have all the information we need to figure out how to actually eat the recommended amount of veggies. To help you do that, here's 4 tips.
4 ways to ensure you eat your veggies
1. Always have 1 cup of veggies at lunch, 1 cup of veggies as part of a snack (remember sweet potatoes count!) and 1 cup at dinner. Veggies at breakfast is a bonus.
Here's an example of what that might look like.
- Lunch: burrito bowl: brown rice, corn,
- Mini-meal: half of a baked sweet potato
- Dinner: small side salad (which we’ll eat first) with fettuccini cashew Alfredo with broccoli and peas
- Lunch: Veggie burger with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle with sweet potato fries
- Mini-meal: corn on the cob or box of spicy lentil kale soup
- Dinner: Small garden salad with veggie lasagna
2. Don’t eat meat and dairy at every meal. Replace animal products with veggies instead.
3. Eat mini-meals, not snacks: you’re more likely to eat healthier.
4. Plan your meals ahead of time to ensure they have enough veggies. Don’t forget: corn, beans, potatoes and sweet potatoes count. Eat more of these foods! (Just skip the butter and oil on top).
Or, use a service such as HappyHerbivore.com's Meal Mentor Program that emails you plant-based and veggie filled recipes with a corresponding grocery list so you don't have to plan but still eat your veggies!
Also, look out for Trisha's Table -- Healthy Meals To Go in Columbia, SC (we'll keep you posted!).
Take Control Now Challenge
- Write down everything you ate yesterday. Did you meet the vegetable recommendation?
- In the comments section, write how many servings you think you ate and one way you can increase the quantity of veggies in your diet every day.
Source: USDA, My Plate accessed online May 2016 at http://www.choosemyplate.gov/vegetables