Fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients that help you learn and grow, prevent disease, and keep up your energy and mood. Fruits and vegetables are important for a healthy body weight, too. Studies show that generous amounts of these foods can help you:
- Prevent obesity
- Lose excess weight
- Maintain a healthy weight throughout your life
Ideas to make it happen
- Grab a bag. Buy bags of mini carrots, broccoli, and sugar snap peas for easy, portable snacks.
- Rate your plate Fill half of your plate with vegetables at every lunch and dinner. Eat this half first!
- Finish up with fruit. If you want something sweet for dessert, make it fruit. Whole, fresh fruit is best.
- Never starch alone. Add vegetables to rice, ramen, or pasta dishes.
- Get smooth. Make frozen fruit smoothies with whole fruit, ice cubes, and skim milk or low fat yogurt.
- Watch your sides. At restaurants, choose beans, vegetables, or a side salad instead of French fries.
- Keep it simple and in sight. Stock your kitchen fruits and vegetables that are easy to eat. If the foods are there and ready to grab, everyone is far more likely to get in their nine recommended servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
- Always have fresh, cut-up vegetables at the ready in your refrigerator. Keep them crisp in cold water and the odds are excellent they'll get gobbled up.
- Keep it colorful — be sure there are always fruits and vegetables of at least three different colors in your kitchen to make it easier to get a variety of nutrients during the day and week.
- Pack the freezer with choices too. Not only good in smoothies, frozen fruits can be great right-from-the-bag treats. Frozen vegetables are a super stand-in for fresh ones if you haven't been to the store or farmers' market.
Sneak in more
Some people love salad—and some people don't. Whichever group you belong to, it's still important to be sure you're eating your five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day but there's no question, it's easier to do this if you're in the first group!
For that fruit-and-veg-challenged second group, try this trick to make it easier to get in all those servings— use your blender to puree vegetables or fruits and combine them with other foods you like. It's a great way to sneak important nutrients (including fiber) into your diet.
Applesauce and other pureed fruits (including blueberries, pears, plums, apricots and others) can be stirred into plain yogurt, mixed into a smoothie, eaten with a healthy cereal, or enjoyed as an easy, convenient snack.
Note to Parents:
Sometimes it pays to be creative in trying to get your kids to eat sufficient quantities of veggies and fruit. Spaghetti sauce (over whole wheat pasta) can be "healthified" with green beans, carrots, even spinach - you'll barely notice a difference in taste! Buy snack-packs or use your blender to puree your own fruits and vegetables.