While we know that we need to eat more veggies and that a minimum of 5 serves each day is what we need for good health, far fewer of us know that when it comes to optimal health and well-being we need a lot more than the minimum of 5 serves of vegies a day that is recommended by public health agencies. In fact, when we look at the data from countries who have the healthiest diets, they are on average consuming 7-10 serves of fresh fruit and veggies every single day. So how can possibly eat this many veggies each day? Follow these simple steps and you will hit your veggie target with ease, every single day.
1) Include them at breakfast
Veggies are no longer a dinner food - get into the habit of adding either some sort of salad to your eggs or toast such as mushies or tomato or simply add them to your favourite smoothies are juices. Vegetable juices are much lower in sugars than fruit based juices and will easy give you at least 1-2 serves of nutrient rich vegetables. And if you are not a juice fan, green veggies including spinach, kale and cucumber will easily mix into your favourite breakfast smoothie.
2) Take at least 1 vegetable to snack on a day.
Our default is often a piece of fruit which is naturally a great choice but in addition start to consider veggies as nutrient dense, low calorie snacks. A punnet of baby tomatoes; a cucumber; carrot; handful of snow peas or cut up capsicum are not only tasty snacks especially teamed with cottage cheese, hommus or nut spreads but surprisingly convenient. Many supermarkets are not also stocking snack style veggies so you don’t even need to cut them up yourself.
3) Add a lunch side
The great thing about veggies is that you can literally add them to any dish or meal as a low calorie side. At lunchtime think side salad, soup or leftover vegetables from dinner that can bulk up your regular sandwich, sushi or leftovers. Not only will you notice feeling more satisfied all afternoon but you will then be well on your way to your 7-10 serves of veggies each day.
4) Eat them while you prepare dinner
Chances are you snack on crackers, dip and chips before dinner but simply adding some cut up vegetables to the mix when you are tired, bored and hungry means you will not only eat significantly fewer calories at dinner but will easily eat at least a serve of vegetables before the meal itself.
5) Aim for ½ a plate at dinner
The mistake we make in Australia is loading our dinner plates up with extra protein at the expense of our veggies. Ideally we need at least 2 cups of vegetables or salad at dinner time or at least ½ of the plate. Using a spiralizer to make zucchini or pumpkin noodles; or cauliflower rice are two easy ways to replace out some carbs for extra vegetables in stir fries and pastas while a side salad or roasted vegetables go a long way in complimenting many different meals. Most importantly, don’t be scared to make your vegetables taste good - feel free to use oils, sauces and cheese to flavour them up as you will eat a lot more when your veggies and salads taste good.