The USDA changes its ruling on how many fruits and vegetables to eat daily about every five years.
You’ve got to be paying attention, or the last thing you’ll remember about the correct daily portions about fruits and vegetables will have come from your 11th grade Health teacher. 😂
In the ‘60s and ‘70s, kids were told to eat 4 servings daily of fruits and vegetables.
In the ‘80s, it was 3-5 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit.
In the ‘90s, they recommended 2-4 servings of fruit, but the same servings of vegetables.
Into the 2000s, fruits and vegetables took up the most space on the food pyramid, and even went so far as to illustrate the appropriate caloric intake.
Now, the understanding from the USDA is that everyone should be eating 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables as part of our 2,000 calorie intake every day.
Pause here. Think about what your hunger cycles and eating routines look like. Are you eating breakfast? Likelier to have a big lunch than a big dinner? Completely starving until you eat at night, and then binging to make up for the day?
Do you feel good about the amount, kind, and spacing of food that you’re eating every day?
The health epidemic in the States, and the general population reports that most of us feel under-energized, unfocused, and incapable of participating in the physicality of life to the degree we’d like to.
Well, it’s a problem that runs deeper than just fruits and vegetables. But for many of us, that’s where we need to start.
Can we trick ourselves into eating 2 cups of fruits every day and 2.5 cups of veggies? Yes, we can.
Here are a few of my suggestions:
1. Make sure you’re BUYING that much
I know we’re all trying to make as few trips to the grocery store as possible, but earnestly attempting to eat more fruits and vegetables every day will take ensuring that they’re actually in your house.
For a week-long period, you need 10 cups of fruit and 12.5 cups of vegetables. Multiply that by how many people you’re feeding.
It’s going to look like a lot. But diversify! Get colorful vegetables, like eggplant. Get frozen mangos and frozen peas. And then look for those big boxes or bags of spinach, carrots, strawberries, apples, and bananas.
If your cart is so full of fruits and vegetables that there isn’t room for the normal amount of snacks and junk food, that’s a good thing! Woo Hoo!
(btw, fresh greens go bad the fastest, so if you’re using them for smoothies – the best way I know how to get an extra serving of greens in – then freeze some of the kale and spinach to add to those smoothies.)
2. Display them prominently
Don’t hide them in cabinets – anything that doesn’t have to be refrigerated should be easy for the eye to catch! That way, when someone gets hungry, they don’t reach for a bag of chips. They’ll reach for a banana or a kiwi or into the crisper for some fresh broccoli. If you’ve got children, or other housemates you’re trying to encourage to eat healthy, let them see you doing it! De-stigmatize vegetables – learn that it’s cool to eat them.
3. Cook them in bulk
If you’re buying in bulk, and worried that some vegetables will go bad and not get eaten, or that you simply don’t have the time to prepare a dinner every night that includes enough vegetables and fruit for everyone, then cook them in bulk!
Take a Sunday, chop a bunch of cauliflower, carrots, broccoli and sweet peppers, roast them, and freeze them! Cut up veggies for dipping so they’re handy and you grab them instead of the chips. It’ll make dinner time much faster, and make grabbing vegetables a thoughtless task.
4. Add fruits to morning and afternoon snacks
When you get the mid-morning hungries, or start to lag around three or four… Don’t grab another coffee. Make sure you have melons to satisfy that sweet tooth, or apple slices with honey, or a banana with peanut butter to eat as you take a stroll around the block.
They’ll add up faster than you think as long as you build the habit! And you’ll end up feeling fuller, more energized, less sluggish, and with clearer skin and better-fitting clothing in the long run.
Do these suggestions seem doable? Do you think they’ll make a difference for you and your family?
I’d love to hear in the comments.