I love helping people thrive in ALL areas of life – and one that we really seem to be struggling with these days is health. Our entire planet has been hyper focused on this for the past 18 months. And I want to offer a viewpoint on one way I feel we’re missing the boat in protecting ourselves and our health.
Eating more plants.
We were all probably told to eat our veggies as kids. And even if mom couldn’t really explain why except to say “it will make you grow up strong,” most of us know instinctively that fruits and veggies are good for us; but how do they help, why are they important and can we really enjoy them if they’re “good for us” are all questions we’ve probably asked.
Where are we?
The CDC recommends 1.5 – 2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of veggies daily; so about 3.5 – 5 total. How often do you eat that many in a day?
One in 10 american adults is thought to actually eat that amount.
What if I told you other studies show that adults should eat at least 9 servings, and depending on your sex, activity level and age, up to 16 (especially athletes). Whew.
[I’m not going to cite any particular studies – a quick Google search will give you tons of statistics and info which you can sort through based on your choice of news sources. No matter where you look though, it is widely accepted that we aren’t getting anywhere near enough fruits and vegetables.]
So what about you? How many fruits and vegetables do you average eating each day? What about your kids? I’m a health coach, actually really enjoy eating healthy meals, and I still do not eat enough plants most days. So no judgment here! But it really is important for us to do better.
Why fruits & veggies?
Well, there are some darn good reasons for eating more plants!
They’ve been shown to:
- Reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce risk of certain types of cancer
- Reduce risk of type 2 diabetes
- Help with weight loss and maintaining healthy weight **(but what about fruit and weight loss? We’ll get to that!)
- Improve gastrointestinal health
- Strengthen immune system
- Improve gut health
- And more!
And a great resource I love to connect with is the Blue Zones study https://www.bluezones.com/ for way more about health than just plants; they’ve done some really cool work and research.
Fruit and Weight Loss
I am often asked about fruit and weight loss. Many programs will encourage you to limit or eliminate fruits while in the weight loss phase (including the program I work with). While there are a lot of different thoughts on this, the rationale is that the natural sugar in fruit will slow down your weight loss. Putting the focus on the overall goal of getting to a healthy weight first, which will impact every area of your health, and then add fruit back in slowly, is the intent of most plans that ask you to eliminate fruit. Short term goals vs long term. I am a huge proponent of fruit being an important part of overall lifelong health!
5 Easy Ways to Eat More Plants
- Make it convenient!
Bowls of fruit on the counter. Baggies of sliced, single serving fruits or veggies in the fridge. When I go ahead and prepare veggies as soon as I get groceries, we are way more likely to eat them for a quick snack.
- Add them in creative ways.
No matter how many times I’m told this I sometimes still forget. You can add fruits or veggies to smoothies, soups, eggs, sandwiches, sauces, even baking!
- Set a fun goal with a friend!
Only eating a few per day now? Make a goal to add just ONE more serving every day for a week. And then increase the next week until you are up to where you want to be. There are apps for everything so find one you enjoy and have fun with it. And everything is more fun with a friend. Put a post on social media asking for someone to partner with you and I bet you’ll have at least one friend say yes! Decide your goal and how you’ll check in and hold each other accountable. And then enjoy celebrating your success (with something healthy, wink).
- Try something new!
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut! Explore the produce aisle. Try a new recipe or new restaurant. I send out a newsletter every week with a healthy recipe. Go to this link to sign-up! https://daretothrive.org/contact/
- Eat the rainbow
Did you know there are at least NINE different families of fruits and vegetables?? Eating the “rainbow” of colors is important as each color has different nutrients. Pretty cool, eh? So in addition to eating MORE another goal can be to try to eat a wider variety of colors.
So have some fun with this! After all, thriving isn’t really thriving if you’re miserable doing it, right?? Enjoy the fresh summer seasonal fruits and vegetables and get ready to try some new and different ones in the fall. And as always, I hope you’ll continue to dare to thrive with me. Thanks for reading.