September is Fruits and Veggies month, and the theme each year is “More Matters!” Their goal is to help you focus your attention on eating more fruits and vegetables.
More than 90 percent of both adults and children do not eat the amount of fruits and vegetables recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate nutrition guide.
How can you add more fruits and veggies to your diet? Remember these two important rules:
- Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies at every eating occasion, including snacks!
- ALL forms of fruits and veggies count towards your daily total-fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and 100% juice!
Let’s think about rule #1. How can you add more fruits and veggies to every meal?
Breakfast: add veggies to your eggs in the morning. I eat scrambled eggs with spinach and red pepper. Not an eggs person? How about topping your cereal or toast with some chopped up fruit? I grew up watching my mom slice a banana over her Cheerios almost every morning!
Snack: I love eating fresh veggies with hummus! I typically use cucumber, baby carrots, and red pepper.
Lunch: The easiest way to add veggies to your lunch is to have a salad! The bigger the better. Be sure to include your leafy greens and some protein. If you prefer sandwiches, load up the lettuce and tomato. and go easy on the condiments.
Snack #2: grab a piece of fruit for a mid-afternoon pick me up instead of candy. Fruit naturally has sugar in it, so if you’re craving something sweet it should do the trick. A favorite snack of mine is apple slices with almond butter.
Dinner: Be sure to fill half your plate with veggies! Another small salad, steamed broccoli, mixed veggies, vegetable soup….whatever you like!
Rule #2 states that all types of fruits and veggies count towards your goal, which should make it super easy and convenient for you to hit your daily intake! I am super lazy when it comes to cooking, so I always buy frozen veggies that I can just stick in the microwave! Dried fruit is great for an on-the-go snack. And 100% juice can be great for kids who are picky about what goes in their mouth. Be creative when it comes to using different types of fruits and veggies in your diet!
Why Do We Need Fruits and Veggies?
Fruits and vegetables provide the body with many key nutrients that we don’t get from other foods. They also tend to be more fiber-dense, and have less calories. This means that after you eat a meal that includes fruits or veggies, you’ll feel fuller for longer. And, you can eat more!
Let’s take a look at some of the important nutrients in fruits and vegetables:
- Calcium: essential for healthy bones and teeth, and also needed for normal functioning of muscles, nerves, and some glands. Found in collard greens, green soybeans, spinach, and turnip greens
- Fiber: diets rich in fiber help to decrease the risk of coronary heart disease. Found in apples, blackberries, lentils, lima beans, pears, raspberries, spinach, beans, artichoke, bananas, blueberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, figs, onions, oranges, plums, sweet potato, and peas.
- Folate: important pre-natal nutrient reduces the risk of having a child with a brain or spinal cord defect. Found in asparagus, broccoli, chickpeas, lentils, collard greens, spinach, strawberries, beets, artichoke, blackberries, cantaloupe, cauliflower, lettuce, papaya, and pepper.
- Iron: needed for healthy blood and normal functioning of cells. Found in lentils, spinach, beans, apricots, chickpeas, and soybeans
- Magnesium: necessary for healthy bones and helps reduce the risk of muscle cramps and high blood pressure. Found in beans, spinach, butternut squash, lentils, soybeans, and nuts
- Potassium: helps to maintain a healthy blood pressure. Found in beans, apricots, bananas, broccoli, cherries, chickpeas, kiwi, lentils, potato, sweet potato, and tomatoes.
- Sodium: needed for normal cell function, but too much sodium can result in high blood pressure. Found in artichoke, bell pepper, broccoli, carrot, celery, radish, and sweet potato. There are also many fruits and vegetables with little or no sodium.
- Vitamin A: keeps skin and eyes healthy and helps protect against infections. Found in apricots, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, grapefruit, lettuce, mango, spinach, sweet potato, tomatoes, watermelon, asparagus, celery, and plums.
- Vitamin C: helps heal cuts and wounds and helps keep teeth healthy. Found in apricots, bell pepper, blackberries, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, lemon, lime, melon, orange, pineapple, potato, raspberries, spinach, summer squash, strawberries, tangerines, tomato, and watermelon.
Obviously, this isn’t an extensive list, but doesn’t that make you want to take a giant salad to the face?! There are SO many important health benefits you get from eating fruits and veggies.
Your September Challenge
Starting this month, I’m going to be providing a challenge for my readers that ties into the monthly theme. Everyone who completes the challenge and emails me their results at the end of the month will be entered into a drawing for a FREE month of training with me!
So! Here is your September challenge:
Track your fruit and veggie intake each day. Try to eat at least one serving of fruits or veggies with every meal and snack. Bonus entries for anyone who tries a new recipe that incorporates fruits or veggies!
P.S. THIS website has more information about Fruits and Veggies month, and a ton of great recipes!