Many of you know that my New Years goal is to eat more vegetables. Last year, I found myself in this rut of eating semi-healthy foods, like baked goods with healthy ingredients, oatmeal, healthy pancakes etc. There isn’t anything wrong with these foods, but it becomes an issue when you’re sacrificing fresh, real foods.
Why You Need To Eat More Vegetables
According to research, a diet that consists mostly of fruits and vegetables (vegetables more so than fruit) is one of the best things you can do for your health. Here’s a few reasons why:
1) They Have a High Nutrient Density
Nutrient-dense foods are essentially foods that are low in calories and high in nutrients and vegetables are some of the most nutrient dense foods you can find. Meaning, vegetables pack in more nutrients per calorie than most other foods. These highly nutrient dense yummies are associated with reduced risk of chronic disease, higher energy levels, healthy weight, reduced risk of obesity, and other really great stuff.
Author and health authority Dr. Axe does a great job describing nutrient density here:
Here’s another way to look at it: In terms of the amount of nutrients you’d get per calorie consumed, 600 calories worth of fast food french fries is obviously NOT the same as 600 calories of kale. In the same vein, 600 calories of brown rice is NOT the same as 600 calories of kale either. Sure, brown rice is a natural food, but it is also far less nutrient-dense than kale (and a host of other foods too). On Dr. Fuhrman’s “Nutrient Density Scale,” oatmeal has a score of 53. To give a little perspective, you would have to eat four bowls of oatmeal to equal the nutrient density of just one bowl of strawberries. And you’d have to eat about 20 bowls of oatmeal to get the equivalent nutrients of one bowl of kale!
Crazy, right?! You’d have to eat 20 bowls of oatmeal to get the equivalent nutrients of just one bowl of kale. So just think about how many nutrients you’d be packing into you’re diet if you’d eat more vegetables- even just a small amount! No wonder nutritionists preach the importance of eating more veggies!
2) They Make You Beautiful
Because veggies are so high in nutrients, they will make you beautiful from the inside out. I found a tidbit on Mind Body Green that mentioned how The Journal of Public Health found that Cartenoids, a type of phytonutrient found in red, yellow and orange vegetables give your skin a glow that people find more attractive than a sun tan!
Also, phytonutrients- which are found in abundance in veggies- will protect your skin cells from premature ageing, and damage of UV rays, and provide other anti-inflammatory benefits.
3) They Help with Weight Loss
Vegetables have the perfect weight loss cocktail: they’re high in fiber and low in calories. In other words, they make you feel full despite the fact that you haven’t eaten many calories. Plus, they are low in sugar, and we all know sugar is weight loss’s worst enemy.
Plus, the nutrient density of veggies will have you feeling satisfied. Processed and sugary foods leave overfed yet starving for nutrients, causing you to continue to eat more. A diet full of vegetables, on the other hand, will satisfy your body’s craving for nutrients.
This is just a few of the reasons you should eat more vegetables! It’s funny because despite the overwhelming evidence of the benefits of vegetables, many of us (including me) fail to incorporate them into our diets. One of the reasons, I believe, is simply because American culture doesn’t emphasize them enough, so we aren’t sure how to eat more real, whole foods. These tips I’m about to share with you have really helped me eat more vegetables, and thus feel better and healthier. I hope that they will do the same for you!
15 Ways to Eat More Vegetables
1) Eat Salads Everyday
This might take some getting used to at first, but it’s wonderful once it’s part of your routine. It’s also easier than you think – just put everything on some lettuce. I love it because it gives your food a little extra flavor and texture. Having some eggs? Pair them with some fresh spinach, mixed greens, or butter lettuce. Be creative- if your salads are boring you aren’t going to eat them. If you need a little extra help, here is a great article on how to build a delicious and nutrient dense salad.
2) Meal Prep them ahead of time
Whether you cooking them in advance or chopping them up, having prepared veggies on hand will make you way more likely to eat them. For example, at the beginning of each week, chop up an assortment of veggies to be either thrown on salads or roasted for later that week.
3) Toss Them Into Smoothies
One of my faves! Whether you’re opting for a green smoothie or a protein smoothie, throw in some veggies like cauliflower and spinach for an extra boost of nutrients. Here are some smoothie recipes to get you started.
4) Figure out which veggies you like best/ how you like them prepared
Experiment a little with veggies you like the most and how you like them prepared. You will obviously be more likely to eat them when they actually sound yummy and you’re excited to have them. For example, I love roasted brussel sprouts, especially with bacon bits and capers. I’m always excited to add this as a side dish to any meal because of how much I love it.
5) Embrace Alternative Noodles (AKA Zoodles)
I’ve recently been having more zoodles and they are seriously so good! They go with everything too. You can lightly steam them or just eat them raw. Also, they taste great with pesto or tomato sauce. And if you don’t have a spiralizer, it’s super easy to just use vegetable peeler instead!
6) Eat ’em for breakfast
Starting your day with vegetables will not only help you incorporate them into your diet but will also get you into a healthy mindset for the rest of the day. It’s super easy- simply create a hash with whatever veggies you have on hand. This Paleo Sweet Potato and Brussel Sprouts Hash is one of my favorite veggie-packed breakfasts!
7) Incorporate a New Vegetable Each Week
Diversify your vegetable pallet by trying a new vegetable each week and using it in as many recipes as possible. Simply pick a veggie that’s in season and research some recipes you can use it in.
8) Have a Weekly Stir-fry
Having a vegetable based stir fry each week can really help pack in the veggies. Simply fry up whatever veggies you have on hand along with some meat and coconut aminos or tamari.
9) Make Slaws and Kale Salads
This is one of my favorites because they last in the fridge. They may even get better as they sit. While normal salads really only last a day or so leftover because the lettuce wilts, kale salads and slaws hold up really well for days in the fridge.
10) Have A Meatless Monday or Meatless Week Once A Month
Skipping out on meat will force you to get creative and make lots of yummy plant-based meals.
11) Double Your Veggie Portions
Double the veggie portions in the recipes you make. You can also simply just make double veggies for a side dish.
12) Set A Goal
By making a specific goal you will be more likely to eat more vegetables. If you’re new to the healthy eating, maybe start small, like making it your goal to eat a couple serving of vegetables per day. If you’re more advanced in you health journey, maybe try and having a more ambitious vegetable serving goal.
13) Snack on them raw
Raw veggies make a great snack- they will keep you full and satisfied without causing any funny business with your blood sugar.
14) Consider trying cauliflower rice
Cauliflower rice works great as a side, served with a stir-fry, or mixed in with sushi.
15) Make sure you can see them
Research shows that we eat the foods that we can see. Out of sight = out of mind, so make sure you store your veggies where you can see them!
Again, research shows that a diet with lots of vegetables is one of the best things you can do for your health. I’ve found eating more veggies increases my energy levels, helps clear my skin, does wonders for my digestion, improves my sports performance, and tons more. I hope these tips will help you eat more vegetables like they have for me!