5 a Day: Easier Than We Think!
22%. That's the number I just read in a neat little book, Tip a Day Guide for Healthy Living, by Melanie Douglas (registered dietician and certified personal trainer). What does this number relate to? That's how many Americans actually eat five servings of fruits and vegetables on an average day. This percentage wouldn't be so startling, except for the massive national advertising campaign that's gone on for years now, to educate the public as to the crucial importance of this habit!
We know that fruits and veggies are packed with good nutrition, including fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and trace elements - they're some of the healthiest foods we can eat. We know they are convenient, portable, and affordable. So since we know all this, why the heck aren't we eating the five servings a day that's so highly recommended?
A little random polling revealed two main reasons why:
Bad habits die hard - we just forget to include 'em.
We think it's just too time-consuming or too difficult to do.
Well, author Douglas reminds us of something: The portions required in this 5-a-day regimen are SMALL, so working 5 small portions of something into a day's eating is pretty easy to do. (And small portions of anything is the way those of us with blood sugar issues need to eat, so this idea fits.) We just need to get organized and have a routine to get us over the forgetting and past the idea that it's too hard.
Here's one way it can be done:
Breakfast: 1 serving fruit (think banana, apple, or 1/2 C berries)
Lunch: 2 servings veggies (2 cups leafy greens topped with other veggies such as chopped radishes, celery, tomatoes, cilantro, cucumber, red bell pepper, etc.)
Snack: 1 serving fruit (such as 1 cup melon chunks, 1 pear, 1 orange, 1 sliced kiwi, etc.)
Dinner: 1 serving vegetable (such as 1 cup broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, spinach, cabbage - steamed or raw)
So there's the routine. Now that's not so hard, right? Well, except for the rat-racy lifestyle so many of us live - here's where the organization is needed. Planning ahead will make this all very doable.
First, let's keep a fruit bowl on the counter, so when we're running out the door in the morning, we can grab that banana or apple. We can eat it during the commute to work.
Serving 1 covered.
Next, let's prepare our lunch and afternoon snack the night before (while we're cleaning up from dinner) and pop them in the fridge. So now we can grab our lunch (a nicely packaged salad) and snack (that cup of melon chunks) as we're running out the door. Servings 2, 3, and 4 covered.
Then, let's just decide and commit to including a vegetable in our dinner menu. Steamed or raw - serving 5 is covered.
This is one of the simplest and most pleasant ways we can maintain a strong immune system and optimize our health! 5-a-day really is easier than we think, so let's make it happen.