Did you know that only 9% of adults eat the recommended amount (2-3 cups) of vegetables per day? True story! In this episode, I’m giving you 10 tips on how you can eat more veggies.
But before we talk about how to eat more vegetables, I want to be sure you’ve taken my new quiz. If you feel like you’re constantly starting over; like you are stuck in an all-or-nothing cycle; like you can’t make progress no matter how hard you try, this quiz will give you some major insights.
It’ll take less than 3 minutes to fill out and will give you some ideas on how to finally start to move forward toward your goals.
Why am I devoting an entire episode to eating veggies? Because 7 out of every 10 deaths are a direct result of chronic disease, and not eating our veggies plays a huge role in these diseases and their prevention.
Why We Need to Focus on Veggies in Our Diet
The micronutrients in vegetables are crucial for more than just avoiding disease. They affect our energy levels, our mood, and our weight loss goals, along with the ability to fight off minor illnesses.
I have another, bigger reason I like to talk about increasing the number of vegetables we eat.
If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know that I am very much against the all-or-nothing method of doing anything. And especially when it comes to diets and food restriction.
I have seen over and over again how damaging it can be to completely restrict ourselves of any type of food.
I believe the best way to overcome some of our more detrimental eating habits is to replace those habits with new habits. And so, if you are having trouble limiting yourself to one cookie or one slice of the chocolate cake, you would do well to build the habit of eating more veggies.
In other words, stop focusing on what you can’t have and instead, focus on getting more veggies on your plate. At every meal, ask yourself if you’ve got a veggie on your plate.
Now, let’s move into the 10 simple tips to help you increase your veggie intake.
Tip #1- Eat Them Because You Need Them
Vegetables contain many of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need in order to function properly.
Have you ever heard one of your kids say, or have you said, “I just don’t like vegetables.”
Well, guess what? We as adults don’t get a pass on things just because we don’t like them. If I want to live a long healthy life, I might just have to suck it up, put on my big girl pants, and eat them, whether they’re my favorites or not.
Here’s something to understand: the further you are from eating vegetables, the harder it’s going to be at first. Your taste buds aren’t used to them and you may struggle.
The way to overcome that is twofold. First, as an adult, you make a choice to do what’s best for your body. And secondly, understand that repetition and exposure change your tastebuds, so the veggies that might not be palatable today might be your favorite food next month.
Tip #2- Have Veggies Prepared Ahead of Time
Let’s be honest, sometimes we come home from the grocery store, and instead of washing and chopping the veggies before we put them away, we just put them away. And I get it. By the time we go to the store and do the shopping, in addition to the rest of our day, we’re tired.
So, if you know you’re somebody who is going to stick them in the fridge without dealing with them, maybe you’ll want to spend the extra couple of dollars to buy prechopped veggies at the store.
Preparation is one of the things that keep people from consuming veggies. If you have to do a whole bunch of work before you can eat them, you’re unlikely to do so.
Tip #3- Eat High-Quality Vegetables
Do you need to buy 100% organic veggies? Not necessarily.
What I do for my family is to buy the best I can of the veggies we eat the most. That would be cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, and asparagus. We go through tons of all of those.
And then, for the things we eat less of, I am not quite as worried about whether those things are organic.
Another way to decide what you will buy organic and what you won’t worry about is to use the lists, The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen. You can also do some research into GMOs and what veggies to avoid.
Tip #4- Eat the Rainbow
Of course, you’ve heard that a thousand times. But why does it really matter?
Each vegetable has its own color and those colors delineate various vitamins and minerals. So, why does that matter?
Well, if you only eat green vegetables, you’re missing all the specific nutrients that yellow and orange vegetables offer.
You want to eat the rainbow so that you take in all the different nutrients each veggie has to offer.
Tip #5- Prepare Veggies in a Variety of Ways
If you typically steam your veggies but your kids don’t like them that way, or you don’t like them that way, switch up your method of cooking.
The cooking method changes the taste of vegetables dramatically.
For example, roasting them in the oven gives you an entirely different taste than steaming them. Likewise, frying them in an air fryer is another completely different taste.
You don’t have to eat mushy boiled vegetables like your grandma cooked for Sunday dinner.
Try pan-frying them on the stovetop. Slice them and put them on the grill or buy a grill basket so you can grill them alongside your meat.
And while you’re cooking them in new ways, try some new spices. Good old-fashioned salt and pepper are great but you can get creative with the spices you have on hand and come up with some new favorites.
Tip #6- Plan Your Vegetables
Hopefully, you’re taking a grounding day for yourself every week. On this day, you’re planning out your week, including your meals.
The problem I see so often is when women plan their meals, they write down the meat and the starch, or something generic like a casserole or Taco Tuesday. No veggies on the plan.
And then, when you do your grocery shopping, you don’t have any veggies on your grocery list so you don’t buy any.
Get in the habit of adding the vegetables you’re going to cook to your meal plan every week so that they make it onto the grocery list.
Tip #7- Provide a Dipping Agent
In a study amongst school-aged children, the children were provided with the same meal twice, except one of those times, they were given a dipping agent for the veggies.
After the meals, the researchers measured the number of veggies eaten and you won’t be surprised to hear that there were more veggies consumed during the meal with a dipping agent than in the meal without.
So, how does this apply to your home?
What I do is to have a bunch of prechopped veggies that I can pull out quickly, and some type of dipping agent, so that when the kids come in from school or dinner is going to be a while and they’re hungry, they (and I) can grab a carrot and dip it in some hummus.
It also works at the dinner table. Add some dipping sauce and watch the veggies disappear quicker.
Tip #8- Diversify with Gadgets
There are so many cool gadgets out there today that can really change your veggie game.
I saved for years to buy a KitchenAid mixer and I finally bought one a few years ago. The great thing is, they have all sorts of cool attachments and one of them is a spiralizer. So, I can actually use my prized KitchenAid to make zoodles.
You can buy handheld spiralizers so that your kids can make zoodles or potatoes or carrots with it if you don’t have a KitchenAid.
An air fryer has been a game-changer for my family when it comes to veggies. My kids devour any vegetable I cook in the air fryer. It gives them an amazing crispy coating that’s hard to resist.
Tip #9- Walk the Talk
Lots of us deal with picky eaters in our family. We add veggies to our kids’ plates and tell them how much they are required to eat before they can leave the table. Or we harp on their lack of vegetable consumption at every meal.
But a lot of times, the problem is us. If we aren’t eating the vegetables and making them a priority, why do we think our kids will?
I suggest that when you fil your own plate, you shoot for at least ¼-⅓ of the plate is veggie-filled. And work your way up to half of your plate being filled with veggies.
Set the example you want your kiddos to follow.
Tip #10- Hide Those Bad Boys
I am a huge fan of “veggies at every meal!” Well, you say, that’s easy for lunch and dinner but what about breakfast? How am I supposed to get veggies in at breakfast?
If you’re making smoothies for breakfast, throw a handful of greens in there. You’ll never taste them but you’ll get all the nutrition.
You can also purchase or grow microgreens. We’ve been growing them in our kitchen in cups and the kids think it’s great fun to sprinkle them over eggs or throw them in a smoothie. Any time you can add a little bit of novelty, it will help.
You can chop or shred tons of veggies into spaghetti sauce or chili. Add veggies to smoothies. Add extra veggies to your casseroles. Add veggies to meatloaf. Make soup and blend up extra veggies into the broth. Add veggies to taco meat.
Whew! I hope some of these tips will help you get more veggies in your life. If you’re only getting one serving or less of veggies every day, start where you are and try to get to the next step.
Figure out what it would look like to get 2 servings a day instead of one. Add veggies to your lunch if you never have them during that meal.
All of a sudden, it becomes a habit. And soon, you’re not only hitting the recommended amount, but you’re actually craving them.
That’s how you change your life. One baby (veggie) step at a time.
There may be many layers of this onion that you have to peel back before you get to all the root causes. If you don’t know where to start, I am here to help.
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