Hey friends! We have officially kicked off the 3 Healthy Eating Habits Challenge, and I hope you’re off to a great start! The challenge focuses on the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, eating quality protein, and improving our attitudes towards food.
Now, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out this POST, and download the free challenge guide by clicking the button below. This is a self-guided challenge, so you can jump in and join at any time!
Today, I want to discuss: 1) the benefits of fruits and vegetables and 2) simple ways you can incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your daily diet. Let’s get started!
Why Fruits and Vegetables Are Important
Here are three good reasons why you should focus on incorporating these foods in your diet (but trust me, there are many more benefits of fruits and vegetables than just these!):
1. Fruits and Vegetables have Anti-Aging Benefits
Did you know that what you eat can help you look younger? It’s true! Fruits and vegetables are filled with minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants which help firm your skin, smooth fine lines and reduce wrinkles. So which fruits and vegetables can reverse the signs of aging? Tomatoes, kale, eggplant, red bell pepper, basil, brussels sprouts, kiwi, pomegranate, watermelon, avocado, papaya, apple, bananas, grapes, berries are your best bets. Next time you go to the grocery store, be sure to stock up!
2. Fruits and Vegetables are Heart Healthy Foods
Remember those minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that I mentioned above? Your body needs them to function properly. Also, eating more high-quality, nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables is a heart healthy habit because they may reduce your risk of stroke, cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Other benefits of eating fruits and vegetables include: most are naturally low in fat and calories, they have no cholesterol, and many are rich in potassium (which can help maintain healthy blood pressure).
3. Fruits and Vegetables are Rich in Fiber
We’ve all heard how we should include fiber in our diet. Fiber helps regulate our digestion and helps us feel fuller for longer. In addition, fiber-rich foods are considered to be heart healthy because they help reduce cholesterol (and thus prevent heart disease). Fruits and vegetables such as apples, mangos, strawberries, dark-colored vegetables, avocado, and bananas have an excellent amount of fiber content per serving, which make them great choices to include in a heart healthy diet. Check out this LIST of other high fiber fruits and vegetables.
Now that you know some of the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables, how can you sneak more into your diet? Here’s how:
Turn it Into Liquid
The trick to enjoying any food is not the food itself. It’s the method of cooking or additives used to cook with it. This will make you love it! One of the tastiest and simplest methods of increasing vegetable intake is by making soup.
Lots of people hate onions. If that’s you, food texture may be the reason. However, you can simply remove its natural texture by blending the onion into a soup. The same applies for sweet potato and butternut squash.
If you’re pressed for time, you don’t have to make a soup yourself because there are many options available at the grocery store. However, there are so many benefits to making your own soup including:
- It teaches you a new skill
- It provides you with more confidence in your cooking
- You know exactly what ingredients are going into it (I.e., you have more control)
- It’s cheaper!
By the way, cooking soup typically involves making many portions. That’s a good thing! You can easily have a bowl of your soup each day of the week or freeze portions to eat later.
Pack the Dish
Whenever you’re cooking a meal with a sauce base, such as a curry or a bolognese, you have a great opportunity to pack the meal with vegetables–and you won’t notice that they are even there. The key is to find vegetables that will suit the meal. A quick google search of a specific meal will give you an abundance of recipes that are the same but different. Additionally, search for the vegetarian option of that meal for further inspiration.
Please don’t be afraid to tweak a recipe when it comes to vegetables. You can follow it for the base and sauce components, then use your creativity and boldness in terms of the vegetables. As a guideline, aim to pack 3+ vegetables other than the garlic and onion in each dinner you make.
Make Them Sexy
If you are not attracted to the thought, sight, or smell of something, you will most likely avoid it, right? The converse is true when it comes to attraction and what draws our attention.
Therefore, making your fruits and vegetables sexy is probably the most important tip of all. Why? Because nobody likes bland, tasteless food! When you know how to make your fruits and vegetables taste great, you will actively buy them, you’ll enjoy cooking them, and you’ll inevitably fall in love with eating them.
How do you make fruits and vegetables sexy?
- Learn to cook specific vegetables in the correct manner. Roast, stream, or blanch can all work but timing and temperature matter.
- Use seasoning/spices and herbs to enhance the taste and texture.
- Try main dishes that combine fruit with the protein (i.e., chicken salad).
- Use cooking sauces like honey, balsamic vinegar and olive oil for taste and texture, but know your portion sizes and stick to them (more about that later).
- When making smoothies use fruits and liquids that mix well together.
Make Them Invisible
A very good way to increase your fruit and vegetable intake is by making them invisible (which is similar to the “Pack the Dish” tip).
The easiest way to do this is to make a smoothie! Smoothies can help disguise and remove the taste of a vegetable or fruit. This means you are increasing fruit intake and vegetable intake simultaneously–a win win! Leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale are great to use in smoothies because they are tasteless once blended with a fruit smoothie. And don’t worry if you’re concerned about your spinach/kale spoiling before you use all of it. Simply freeze it! That’s right, you can put spinach and kale in freezable bags like my favorite one below, and it will be ready for you whenever you need it for your next smoothie.
Make Them Visible
I know you can relate to this–you see food, you want to eat that food. This goes for almost all foods, healthy and unhealthy. Let’s use that to our benefit. Put a fruit bowl in your kitchen. Make sure your eyes will be drawn to it upon walking into the kitchen. The fruit in the bowl should be diverse and colorful. The vivid greens, reds, yellows and oranges will literally brighten the room, and encourage you to eat the fruit. So don’t hesitate. Get yourself a fruit bowl and place it in plain sight today!
Now that you know the many benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, plus some easy ways to eat more of them, I hope you feel empowered and encouraged to do so. As with all foods, be aware of the quality of what you’re eating, and also your portion sizes. Limit foods that are highly processed and contain added sugars (such as fruit juices and sweets). Use valuable resources such as THIS to gauge your portion sizes. These tips will help you establish strong heart healthy eating habits!
Take care, and we’ll speak soon friends!
Mrs. Traylor is a Fitness Instructor, NASM Certified Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach, AFPA Certified Prenatal and Postnatal Fitness Specialist, wife, and momma who provides actionable advice for positive lifestyle changes with fitness, nutrition, and wellness. Read about Wendy’s inspiring entrepreneurial journey, and subscribe to Wendy’s newsletter here!