Our May goal for the Positive Resolution Project is to add more vegetables to your eating pattern! This is the fifth month of adding a positive achievement each month to those already accomplished in earlier months this year. The goal is to have twelve new habits and a healthier lifestyle at the end of the year… one step at a time.
Steps that we've already reviewed include finding new ways to happiness and better sleep and increasing the amount of whole grains we eat. Last month, the goal was to Go for Fruit by adding more fruit to your eating plan. The obvious follow-up this month is to add a vegetable!
When discussing healthy eating, fruits and vegetables are usually talked about together. According to the Produce for Better Health Foundation, regularly eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables supports both short-term needs (such as immune function and adequate nutrition) as well as long-term goals like reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
It is recommended that Americans eat 1 to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 4 cups of vegetables per day. Overall 9 out of 10 adults do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. Do you really eat as many as you think you do? Take some time to look at your consumption.
Breaking out the vegetable category, the average consumption is 1.6 cups of vegetables every day. It’s interesting to note that, even with all the emphasis on the need for vegetables, this level of intake hasn’t changed in the past 15 years. In fact, there has been a decline in vegetable consumption by older adults.
So, how can you add a veggie? Here are some tips! And perhaps you have some ideas your own that you’ve been wanting to try… this is the month to do it!
Remember MyPlate? One goal of MyPlate is to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. There is now a MyPlate App that you can put on your phone to help you track and learn how you are really doing.
Veggies for breakfast. It’s usually easier to have vegetables at dinner, but think about adding them to breakfast. Start small, maybe one or two mornings a week. How about vegetables in an omelet or add leftover roasted veggies to your scrambled eggs?
Bag it. Add a vegetable to your lunch bag. Traditional vegetable sticks may get eaten if hummus or a yogurt dip is added to the lunch sack. Consider adding a dark green leafy lettuce to sandwiches.
Eat Dessert: Look for recipes that include vegetables in a dessert. Here are a few of my favorite ideas:
Be sneaky. Add extra vegetables to foods that are already favorites. An extra can of diced tomatoes or two cans of mushrooms added to spaghetti sauce can really make a difference. Or put pumpkin in your chili. Perhaps even chop an extra stalk of celery when making chicken or whole grain salads.
Make it a contest. Have family members keep a food journal for the week. Whoever eats the most vegetables, wins. Prizes can be monetary or chore-oriented (idea: whoever wins doesn't have to do dishes for a whole week!)
Visit a farm stand or farmer's market. Encourage each family member to pick a favorite or new vegetable. Have everyone help prepare their vegetable during the week.
Plant a vegetable garden. If you can't have a garden in the ground, try a small pot of herbs, tomatoes, or lettuce on the deck or patio.
Let someone else do the work. Explore the fresh-cut vegetable section of your grocery store. Many items that take more time to prepare (such as winter squash or spiralized zucchini) are there and ready to go. While it does cost more, choosing prepared produce may make it easier to add a veggie.
Change a habit. Instead of buying the same frozen vegetables, look for something different.
New recipes. Seek out a new way to prepare a vegetable (or two or three).
Set a goal for yourself, but be realistic with that goal. If you’re not already a vegetable eater, work on adding just two to three more a week. If you’re committed, work on one more each day. This is the month to Add a Veggie!
By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Stephanie Ronco has been editing in a professional capacity for the past 10 years. In addition to her work as an editor, Ronco has also served as a ghostwriter and writing tutor. A voracious reader, Ronco loves watching language evolve and change. When she’s not delving into her latest project, Ronco can be found teaching acting classes, performing in community theater, or sailing with her husband.