I know we've heard it a thousand times, "get your fruits and vegetables in every single day". We know that aiming for 5-10 servings each day will dramatically lower your risk of disease and increase energy and vitality. We know these fruits and vegetables are loaded with beneficial nutrients that fight oxidative stress, and nourish our bodies from the inside out. If we know and understand this information, then why is it that less than half of the Canadian population consumes their 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day? According to Statistics Canada, a merely 39.5% of people over the age of 12 reports eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Of this percentage, women were more likely than men to consume their daily servings.
Often when I am sitting listening to my clients, they know this information but it is the action where they get completely stuck! They know they need 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables but who has the time for that? If you are wondering 'how do I have time to consume all of that in one day?' it's because you don't have a strategy in place. There are simple and effective ways you can increase your fruit and vegetable intake with a little bit of strategic action and intention setting. It can become that simple and a part of your everyday routine. I also, always come back to the self-love piece with clients, because I truly believe this is the root of health and the decisions/action you make each day around your health. That is another blog topic for another day though! Let's have a look below to understand a brief guideline of what one serving consists of.
5-10 Servings of Fruits + Veggies (ideally 2-3 servings of fruit and 7-8 servings of vegetables)
How much is one serving? Follow this guideline below.
The Colours in Fruits and Vegetables + What They Mean
Adding in brightly colored fruits and vegetables into your day and into your meals provides a delicious visual appeal. In addition to the visual appeal, there are three types of pigment in fruits and vegetables and each pigment has unique health benefits.
The first is chlorophyll which comes from the color green. Chlorophyll helps improve liver detoxification, is a powerful antioxidant that has anticancer effects, supports wound healing, protects the skin (from cold sores), improves digestion and weight control (by controlling appetite hormones).
The second are carotenoids which comes from the colors orange and yellow. These contain powerful antioxidant effects, which lower inflammation and protect our cells from oxidative stress, the primary cause of aging and degeneration. There are different types of carotenoids which include Beta-Carotene, A Carotene, Lutein and Zeaxanthin, and Lycopene. Each of these types of carotenoids have an array of health benefits from protecting eye health to having anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.
The third are flavonoids which comes from the colors blue, red and cream colors. These are one of the most well-known to scientists and include approximately 6,000 types. The most common types are quercetin, catechins and anthocyanidins. These help improve blood flow to the brain, increasing cognitive function and they contain powerful antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory effects on the body.
Here are 7 Simple Ways to Increase your Intake
1. Smoothies + Juices
If you've worked with me or follow me on social media you know that I love to encourage the consumption of smoothies and juices. Yes, it seems so simple, but this is an amazing way you can load your body up with anti-inflammatory fresh fruits and vegetables. I like to refer to this as mega nutrient dosing the body. Make sure your smoothies contain both fruit and vegetables and not just fruit. We want to make sure we are getting all those dark leafy greens in each day which are loaded with B vitamins (our stress vitamins), chlorophyll and help support hormones and healthy digestion.
One smoothie and one juice a day is a great starting point. Both have different health benefits, remember juices don't contain beneficial fiber like smoothies. Smoothies are an amazing meal substitute since they are loaded with fiber, fat and protein (when made correctly), especially for breakfast and juices are an amazing snack in between meals as that instant pick-me-up.
Omelets are a simple way to load in the veggies. Cook up some delicious organic eggs and go heavy on the veggies to boost your intake. Chop a bunch of vegetables up and toss in with an egg for a satiating and filling meal. Lightly sauté your veggies in some coconut or avocado oil. My favorite vegetables to pair with eggs are onion, tomatoes, kale, spinach and brightly colored bell peppers. Fresh herbs on hand? Toss these in too!
You can take any traditional soup recipe or any of your favorite soup recipes and double the amount it suggests for veggies. This is a super easy way to increase your vegetable intake. As an added bonus soups are incredibly gentle on the digestive system. If you suffer from a lot of digestive discomfort after your meals like cramping, constipation or bloating, try adding in soups that are gentler on the digestive process and make sure to load up on the anti-inflammatory veggies and fresh herbs.
Take one of your favorite premade sauces, sauté a ton of vegetables and add into the sauce to heat on the stove top. Use the sauce as an easy way to increase your veggie intake even if you don't want to make from scratch and want to use a store-bought jar of sauce. If you aren't making the sauce from scratch, just make sure to choose a brand that’s organic with no additives, preservatives and sugar added.
5. Chopped Veggies and Fruit Always on Hand
Always have your veggies and fruit chopped ready to go. Keep your veggies, like carrots, broccoli, celery, and cauliflower soaked in water in the fridge to keep them fresh. If they are already precut ready to go you are more likely to eat them or to snack on them periodically throughout the day. Pick up some glass containers or mason jars that you can neatly store them in.
6. Do a Plate Check
Always do a plate check before eating. Every single one of your meals throughout the day-breakfast, lunch and dinner should contain half a plate of vegetables. If your plate is only 1 quarter full, time to add some more veggies into your meal before diving in. Your shopping cart shouldresemble this as well. Awareness is everything when improving your health and habits. If you don’t have the awareness you can't make the changes. Also, consistency is key! Take it day by day but make it a non-negotiable for your health to increase your fruit and veggie intake on a consistent basis not simply on the occasion.
7. Snack on Fruits + Veg
What do you currently snack on? Chips? Chocolate? Cookies? Crackers? Opt for fresh fruits and veggies instead. Make a delicious fruit salad or chop up veggies and top with your favorite nut butters or dips like guacamole or hummus. Here are a few of my favorite combos: Celery or Carrots + Nut or Seed Butter, Cucumber or Peppers + Hummus, Broccoli or Cauliflower + Beet Dip. Also, it is important to note that typically for digestion it is best to eat fruit alone, this is unique however to the individual. If you find you are experiencing digestive discomfort by combining your fruit with other foods make sure to have it separately, approximately 2 hours away from other foods giving your body time to digest and consuming fruit on an empty stomach. If however you feel fine try adding delicious nut butters onto an apple, pear or any of your other favorite fruits! Adding a healthy fat to the fruit can help balance blood sugars and improve insulin sensitivity.
Try implementing these strategies and watch how simple it really is to hit those numbers each day! I would love to hear from you as to what your easy ways are to increase your fruit and veggie intake each day?
- Stephanie XO
Stephanie Morrison is a certified holistic nutritionist, registered yoga and meditation instructor with a passion for guiding others along their healing path. She uses a combination food, supplementation, homeopathics and lifestyle recommendations to create balance in the body and address the root cause of her clients health symptoms. She works in private clinic setting specializing in hormonal, digestive and emotional health.