Spring is here, and so are many events that involve indulgent food and
beverage choices. How do you decide what to eat? Before filling your plate,
look at all the items and decide on the best choices for your healthy
eating plan. There may be some challenges. Will you choose cake and cookies
or fresh fruit salad and whole wheat crackers?
After many years of research, experts are now encouraging a plant-based
eating plan. The idea is to eat mostly whole, unprocessed vegetables,
fruits, and whole grains. The more variety, the better. All colors of
vegetables and fruits help the body stay healthy and fight disease. Vegetables
and fruits are low-calorie, while also containing high amounts of vitamins,
minerals, and fiber. Fiber helps with digestion and feeling full after
eating. Because it takes time to eat an apple, for example, we eat more
slowly, which helps us savor and enjoy the food. Eating whole plant foods
can help you to have more energy and to maintain a healthy weight.
If you’re having trouble finding ways to include more fruits and
vegetables in your meals, try to plan your lunch and dinner around a vegetable,
and add a fruit for dessert. For dinner you could start with a whole grain,
such as brown rice or quinoa, and add broccoli, green beans, or cabbage.
For dessert try a dish of strawberries or an apple, kiwi, or mango. The
recommended 5 servings a day of vegetables/fruits sounds like a lot, but
it can be accomplished. For example, have a small orange at breakfast,
tossed spinach salad at lunch, small banana as a snack, and small baked
potato (white or sweet) and cauliflower at dinner. For more information
on all the food groups and serving sizes, check out
www.choosemyplate.gov. Vegetables can be added to sauces, stir-fries, casseroles, soups, and
smoothies. And they make great snacks, too! Try packing some hummus or
bean dip with carrots, cucumber, or bell peppers in your next lunch. Keep
some fresh fruit in a bowl on the counter or right inside the refrigerator
door, in plain sight and ready to eat.
Next time you’re invited to a picnic, party, or potluck, plan to
take a vegetable or fruit dish. Others will be glad you did!
Need help with planning meals/snacks with more vegetables and fruits? Consider
a wellness nutrition coaching appointment with a registered dietitian
(RD). For more information, contact Valley Health Wellness Services at