April is the fourth month of our Positive Resolutions for 2021 project. This project has been available exclusively to members, but I've been so excited about it that I want to share it more widely, which is why our post for April is available to all! The objective of the positive resolution project is for everyone to achieve one new, positive goal each month during the year, adding each new achievement onto those from past months. That way, at the end of the year, everyone will have twelve new habits and a healthier lifestyle.
In January we encouraged ways to find happiness, in February we looked for a path to better sleep, and in March the goal was to increase whole grain consumption. Try to continue with these previous successes each month as you add our April goal of "Go for Fruit." Remember, goals should be personal and based on your specific situation.
Nutrition and health experts agree about the importance of fruits and vegetables in our diets. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans stress the positive health outcomes of adding these plant foods into to a healthy eating plan. Generally, fruits and vegetables are grouped together and recommendations are to eat 1 to 2 cups of fruit per day and 2 to 4 cups of vegetables per day. Overall 9 out of 10 adults do not eat enough fruits and vegetables.
According to the Produce for Better Health Foundation the current consumption of fruit is less than a cup of fruit per person each day. Studies show that this amount is increasing for adults, but trends for children are heading downward. It’s also interesting to note that most fruits are currently eaten at home. (Due to the high natural sugar found in fruits, individuals with pre-diabetes and diabetes should watch the portion size and quantity of fruits eaten at one time). According to My Plate, any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of the fruit group. The fruit can be fresh, frozen, dried or canned.
During this month, take some time to look at your fruit consumption and explore ways to increase or add variety to your eating pattern. Here are some ideas that may work for you, pick a few that inspire you to set measurable goals for yourself:
- Plan ahead when you leave home and take a fruit with you.
- Make your own trail mix out of dried fruits like apples, plums, apricots, and bananas. (Note: calories and sugars in these products add up quickly).
- Look at a different form of fruit that you might like to try such as canned or frozen. Already cleaned, cut, and prepared fresh fruit may also make it easier to include more fruit in your diets.
- Swap a fruit for a sweet dessert or other foods with added sugars.
- Get the grill out! Try grilling fruits such as pineapples, peaches, or kiwi.
- Have the kids pick a letter each day and eat a fruit that starts with that letter…such as A for apple, C for cherries, or F for Fig. If you work your way through the alphabet, you’ll have had 26 fruits during the month. Perhaps you'll even find some new favorites.
- Have a new color every day. Pick a color and try to find and eat fruits with those colors.
- Add fruits to recipes… such as apples to tuna salads, pineapple in chicken salad, and strawberries in a green salad.
- Instead of dipping chips, dip fruit into a sweet yogurt dip or peanut butter.
- Preparing or cutting a fruit to make it more “user friendly” may make it more likely to get eaten. Like how washing and cutting an orange into “smiles” may make it more appealing and easier to eat than a whole peeled orange in a lunch bag.
- When menu planning, think about how fruits can be added to each meal.
- As we move into spring and summer, search out fresh local fruits and enjoy old favorites and try something different.
Fruits are very versatile and can be added to many meals and snack situations. The goal for this month is to think about and Go for Fruit!
By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov
- Produce for Better Health Foundation https://fruitsandveggies.org
- My Plate https://www.myplate.gov
More Paths to Go for Fruit!
- Kitchen Hack: Eat More Fruit https://foodandhealth.com/kitchen-hack-eat-more-fruit/
- Be a Fruit Vender to Eat More Fruit https://foodandhealth.com/fruit-vendor-to-eat-more-fruit/
- A Clever Way to Help Toddlers Eat More Fruits and Vegetables https://foodandhealth.com/toddlers-fruits-vegetables/
- Eat More Fruits and Veggies with Smoothies https://foodandhealth.com/eat-fruits-veggies-smoothies/
- Eat More Fruits and Vegetables as a Family https://foodandhealth.com/fruits-vegetables-family/
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.