It’s well known that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is essential for maintaining good health and preventing chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer. It often seems like an impossible task, especially where children are involved as well but incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet can be easy and delicious, with a little planning and creativity. Here’s what I suggest:
- Start your day with a healthy breakfast: My grandmother always used to say “start your day as you mean to go on”. A good part of this is having a healthy and nutritious breakfast by incorporating some fruits (or even vegetables!) into it. Try adding berries or sliced banana to your oatmeal, or make a green smoothie with spinach or kale, banana, and your choice of milk or yogurt. Top tip – did you know that generally speaking, the darker the fruits are then the better they are for you.
- Pack a lunch: Packing a lunch is a great way to ensure that you are getting the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables. This enables you to take control from the get-go, so you won’t be tempted to reach for unhealthy options later. Making ‘what to eat’ decisions when you are hungry is always a bad idea! Try preparing a salad with mixed greens and a variety of colorful vegetables, such as cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers. You can also add some fruit here, such as apples or berries if you crave a touch of sweetness or simply pack an apple or banana to carry along with you. Your future-self will be grateful at lunchtime if you pack a good lunch – be kind to yourself!
- Make snacking healthy: Instead of reaching for processed, artificial snacks, try snacking on fruits and vegetables. Cut up carrot, celery, cucumbers, bell peppers or cherry tomatoes and store them in the fridge or a small sealable box or bag for easy snacking. Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter or keep fruit in your bag for easy access during the day. If you must have something from a wrapper look for nutritious all-natural snack bars made with dates, nuts and so on.
- Add fruit & veg to your cooking: Incorporating fruits and vegetables into your cooking is a great way to add more to your diet. Try adding spinach or kale to your omelette, or grating zucchini or carrots into your pasta sauce. Mix frozen berries into your yogurt or cereal. Basically, anything and everything you can do to add nutrition to your meals from fruit & vegetables is a good thing.
- Try new fruits and vegetables: Experiment with new fruits and vegetables that you haven’t tried before. You might discover a new favorite! Try a new recipe or prepare them in a new way. If you see something unfamiliar in a store why not buy it and give it a go!
- Make it fun: Make eating fruits and vegetables fun for the whole family. Have a “rainbow” night where everyone has to eat a fruit or vegetable of every color. Have a “try new foods” night where everyone has to try a new fruit or vegetable. With variety comes excitement and colour.
- Lastly, remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. Start slowly, maybe by adding one extra serving of fruits or vegetables each day. The most important thing is to focus on progress over perfection.
Hopefully this article has demonstrated that incorporating more fruit and vegetables into your diet can be easier than you first thought – plus delicious, and beneficial for your health.
Start small – by starting your day with a healthy breakfast, packing a lunch, snacking on fruits and vegetables, adding them to your cooking, trying new fruits and vegetables, making it fun, and focusing on progress over perfection, you can easily increase your intake of fruits and vegetables and improve your overall health no end.
Good luck, and let me know how you get on in the comments below!
Lauren Gamble is an author, mompreneur, co-founder of Naturally Made Essentials. She is on a mission to help thousands of women across the world achieve a healthy, happy lifestyle through teaching natural health practices.