Weight loss habit #18: Eat more veggies

How to do it:

Not a fan of veggies? If you grew up with limp, overcooked vegetables smothered in melted Velveeta, who could blame you? You’re certainly not alone. Only about one in every 10 Americans eats enough fruits and vegetables. Less than 9 percent eat enough veggies.

A good first step toward building this habit is focusing on vegetables that you enjoy. Make a list of your favorites, and start there.

The next step is identifying how much is “more.” The US Department of Agriculture recommends that adult men eat 3 cups of vegetables daily, with 2.5 cups for women. That’s not unreasonable; all you need is a salad with lunch and two hearty servings of veggies with dinner, and you’re there. But if this represents a large and daunting dietary change, you might want to ease in. Start with one extra serving a day, or add a small side salad to lunch or dinner.

This habit is easier to acquire if you combine it with the Try new recipes habit. Once you’ve built a repertoire of vegetable dishes that you and your family enjoy, it’s a lot easier to incorporate them into your eating plan. Experiment with unfamiliar veggies and different preparations. Some veggies (I’m looking at you, Brussels sprouts…) taste totally different when roasted. Eat a wide variety of veggies, and whenever possible, focus on local, seasonal produce. Not only is it more flavorful and nutritious, it’s also less expensive than vegetables that have been schlepped halfway across the globe.

Finally, go for color! Veggies with darker and more intense color are usually higher in nutrients.

Why do it:

Vegetables are packed with nutrients: vitamins, minerals, even protein. They are low in fat and high in fiber, which helps control blood sugar by slowing the digestive process. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables lowers your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Also? Vegetables are delicious.

 

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Sources:

Latetia Moore, epidemiologist, Obesity Prevention and Control Branch, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Jordana Turkel, R.D., LDN, CDE, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Joy Dubost, registered dietitian, Washington, D.C., and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; July 10, 2015, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

United States Department of Agriculture, ChooseMyPlate.gov https://www.choosemyplate.gov/vegetables