Healthy habits take time to build, like how to add fruits and vegetables into your routine. I’m not going to lie to you and say it happens overnight. I’ve been where you have been, wanting to make a change but not quite knowing how to do it or what to focus on.
I have always loved health and fitness but there is always something to learn. So, to improve myself and help others do the same, I started this blog, have done countless hours of research, and even got my Precision Nutrition Level 1 certification.
The best advice I can give you is to make your health a habit. And you are already heading in the right direction to do that by reading this post.
I’m sure you already know that fruits and vegetables are important for a balanced diet. But to really help you make a change, I am going to teach you why these are important for our bodies, as well as the variety you need, how much you should get, and tips to add more to your diet.
The Benefits of Fruits & Vegetables
Now, you might be one of those people that only needs to know that fruits and vegetables are good for them and you don’t need to bother yourself with the details.
I can understand that. We are all so busy these days we want to cut to the chase! BUT I feel knowing this information is vital to help you make it a habit because it gives more meaning to doing this habit.
Just stick with me for a second here and let me give you an example of what I mean.
Pretend you are at work and you see a co-worker searching the floor. She tells you that she lost an earring. You probably just shrug it off thinking it will turn up or she probably has plenty of other sets.
Now pretend that she told you she lost an earring and it was given to her by her grandmother shortly before she passed. Best believe you will be on your hands and knees helping her look for it. And that is because more meaning is attached to it.
The point of this example is to get you to see that understanding why you are creating this habit, what it does for you, is an important step to making lasting change.
So take the time to go through these benefits!
Our Body Can’t Produce All Nutrients
Fruits and veggies are full of different nutrients, which includes vitamins and minerals that are vital to maintain a healthy body.
Without these nutrients, your body will not function properly. This can cause a variety of health problems.
What is super important to note here is that our bodies can’t produce all of the nutrients it needs.
We have to get certain ones from the foods we eat.
That means, adding fruits and vegetables to your routine is a healthy habit you need do if you want a healthy body.
Low Sodium, Fat, & Cholesterol
Everything you eat has an effect on your body, especially when eaten repeatedly over long periods of time.
We know this because of the numerous studies done that look at the effects of sodium, fat, and cholesterol.
If you aren’t too familiar, each of these are things that can affect blood pressure and heart health.
Because fruits and vegetables are low in sodium, fat, and cholesterol, eating more of them can help you replace some of the foods that are higher in these substances.
Fruits and Vegetables Contain Fiber
I’m sure that you have heard that fiber keeps you regular. And it does!
Fiber improves your digestion and keeps you from becoming constipated.
Fiber also helps fill you up so you feel fuller for longer.
It has also been linked to lower cholesterol levels, which you know is good for your heart health.
To give you an idea, some fruits and veggies that are high in fiber are apples, bananas, strawberries, carrots, artichokes and broccoli.
Lower Your Risk Of Disease
Since fruits and vegetables are packed full of nutrients and have the ability to lower cholesterol, it is easy to see how they contribute to lower risk of disease.
They can help reduce the chance of heart disease, stroke, and even some cancers.
Promote Weight Loss
If you are looking to shed a few pounds or maintain a healthy weight, then add fruits and vegetables to your routine.
As I said earlier, they help keep you fuller for longer.
Most are also low in calories. That means when you eat them you will not just feel satisfied longer, you will also be taking in less calories than usual.
Fruits and Vegetables Contain Water
If you read my first healthy habits series post, then you know how important getting enough water is each day.
If you didn’t read it, now would be the perfect time to do that and you can find it here.
Helps The Body Absorb Other Nutrients
I find this fascinating! Our bodies are so complex it is mind blowing!
As we discussed earlier, your body can’t make all of the nutrients it needs. Well, it also needs so extra help to absorb certain nutrients better.
For example, vitamin C helps your body absorb iron.
Another example is olive oil on a salad. Do you know why people turned to that?
Well olive oil aids your body in absorbing vitamins, like A, E, D, and K, that are found in salad staples like carrots and leafy greens.
This is another reason it is important to get a variety of fruits and veggies in your diet.
Variety Of Fruits & Vegetables
The key is not just to get fruits and vegetables in your diet but to get a variety of them. What I mean by variety is getting some of every color.
You have heard Skittles commercials say “Eat the rainbow”. Well, that is what you should think of when choosing fruits and vegetables.
Believe it or not, different colored fruits and veggies contain different nutrients.
When I took the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification for nutrition coaching, one of the things I loved about the program was how easy they made nutrition.
This infograph has stuck with me since that certification and I think it will help you see what I mean by eating the rainbow.
It also gives you some great examples of what falls under each color. Now I know you can look at a tomato and know it falls under the red color group, but there are others that aren’t so obvious.
For example, walnuts also fall under the red category too.
So, if you are really looking to improve your fruit and vegetable intake, consider adding options from each section.
If you are like me, you like variety. I hate eating the same thing every day. I like to spice things up.
When you eat foods from the different colors, you don’t get bored and you can get creative.
How Many Fruits & Vegetables A Day
The USDA recommends anywhere from 5 to 13 servings a day. This is dependent on age, gender, activity level, and overall health.
On average, adults should get 4 servings of fruits and 5 servings of veggies per day.
You should keep in mind, if you are active or have certain goals, such as losing weight, you would want to increase these amounts.
For some, especially if you don’t eat many fruits and vegetables to begin with, this might seem like a lot. But, when you break down what a serving size is, it really isn’t too bad.
For fruits, a serving would be a medium fruit, such as an apple or banana. If it is fresh, frozen, or canned, like peaches or berries, a serving is 1/2 cup. For dried fruit or fruit juice, a serving equals 1/4 cup.
When we are looking at vegetables, raw leafy veggies are 1 cup. A serving of fresh, frozen, canned, or vegetable juice is 1/2 cup.
Tips To Add Fruits & Vegetables To Your Routine
You have learned a ton so far! So, let’s get into the fun part.
How you can easily add fruits and vegetables into your routine.
And don’t say this isn’t the fun part. Just imagine how you are going to feel when you are getting enough of these foods every day!
Here are my top tips for you.
Make A Smoothie
This is a delicious and easy way to get more fruits and vegetables. I love having a smoothie after I work out or even to take with me on a nice walk.
They are light so you don’t feel overly stuffed. And there are countless combinations you can do.
If getting veggies is hard, I highly recommend adding spinach to your smoothies. You get all the benefits but you can’t taste it!
I love stir-fries. You can use so many different combinations here as well.
If you have never made stir-fry before, you can find countless recipes online and its super easy.
Plus, you can substitute any veggies in the recipe for what you like.
You might be wondering where the fruit comes in. Well, citrus is fantastic in Asian cuisine, so add a squeeze of lemon, lime, or orange. Some people even like adding some orange slices to it.
If you are looking for a great wok click here.
Or if you want to keep it simple, grab some of this stir-fry spice blend!
Add It To Your Pasta
I am a huge fan of pasta. A super simple way to get extra vegetables in your diet is to add some to your pasta.
Broccoli or cauliflower go great in mac & cheese. And don’t forget, garlic, onion, tomatoes, zucchini, and asparagus also all go great in different types of pasta.
Try some different combinations out and see what you prefer.
Try Veggie Noodles
Again, I’m going to be honest with you. I have tried some frozen zucchini noodles before and I was not a fan.
I did not like the texture. However, I have been told that slicing them fresh and drying the noodles off so they aren’t so wet, is better.
You should always try it for yourself before you make a decision.
Add It To Sauces
Saucy goodness is the perfect way to hide some vegetables. For the most part, the sauce will hide the other veggie flavors.
When you cook your sauce, throw in some onion and garlic. If it’s a tomato based sauce, add some fresh tomato.
You can also add minced broccoli to a white or red sauce.
If you are looking to up your fruits, add a splash of lemon juice to your red sauce.
Make A Parfait
Adding fresh fruit to some yogurt and combining it with granola might be just what you need to get more fruit.
The yogurt and granola can help tone down the flavor of the fruit and it gives you a different texture.
Soup is an easy way to get extra veggies in. You can add pretty much an vegetable you want to a soup.
Again, there are thousands of recipes out there for soups of all kinds.
A great example of a veggie packed soup is a hearty minestrone soup. That can contain corn, peppers, beans, tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, garlic, and green beans.
Omelets are a fantastic avenue for vegetables.
There are many vegetables, like onion, peppers, and mushroom, that you can add to an omelet to get an extra serving in.
This can also help because it is a different texture. It isn’t you just gnawing on raw veggies.
Blueberry, banana, raspberry, just to name a few, are all yummy options for muffins.
If you aren’t big on fruit, this might be the answer for you!
Homemade muffins are going to give you the fruit you need and fresh muffins always taste better.
Plus, if you are watching your sugar intake, you can keep that to a minimum by making it yourself.
I love making blueberry muffins and I have to say, I really load my muffin full of blueberries. I would say I like blueberries better in a muffin than just eating them plain.
I’m sure you have seen the cauliflower craze that’s been going on the past couple of years.
If can be used to make crust for a pizza or to make riced cauliflower.
The awesome thing about cauliflower is that it has a super mild taste, so it will take on whatever flavors you put with it!
You can even use it to replace pasta, which it fantastic for a low carb option. My mom and sister have done this several times with this Epicure Mac & Cheese Sauce Mix.
If you were looking at the variety of fruits and vegetable section and know you haven’t really tried a variety, that’s alright. Make a list of what you would like to try and make a point to try 1 new vegetable a week.
Not sure how to use it or cook it. The internet is full of videos and recipes to help.
Or experiment by adding different fruits and veggies to your favorite dishes. This is your time to get creative!
Cook it Different
This is mainly referring to veggies. The way you cook a vegetable could be the difference between your liking it or not.
So, if you hate Brussel sprouts because your mom used to steam them when you were a child, try it a different way. Maybe you would like them roasted with some olive oil and garlic so they aren’t as mushy and have extra flavor.
The point here is, give veggies a chance. Try them multiple ways before they make the “don’t like” list.
You might be surprised.
Make a Goal and Reward Yourself
Setting a goal will give you something to aim for and by attaching a reward, you really have something to work towards.
How doesn’t like reaching a goal and getting rewarded for that hard work?
Track Your Fruits and Vegetables
A lot of people do not think to do this but it is super simple. All you need to do is note each time you eat a fruit or vegetable and log what the serving size was.
When you track it you are more likely to add fruits and vegetables because you like seeing that progress and marking a successful day.
I suggest using this with the tip to make a goal and reward yourself. Using both together will help keep you motivated.
Keep Them in Reach
Keep your fruits and vegetables where you can see them. When you see them and they are easy to grab and go, you will be much more likely to grab them.
Stay tuned for more on this tip. I will walk you through a kitchen makeover in another healthy habits series post.
Start To Add Fruits And Vegetables To Your Daily Routine
I threw a lot of information at you in this post but I don’t want you to get overwhelmed. Remember, change doesn’t happen over night.
The main take aways from this post should be that you need to eat enough fruits and vegetables each day so your body has what it needs to function at its best!
And when you get enough, you can get enough, you can promote weight loss, get more fiber, lower your cholesterol, absorb nutrients better, and lower your risk of diease.
Focus on getting about 4 servings of fruits and 5 servings of veggies each day.
If this is hard for you, try some of the tips I mentioned, like making soup, a parfait, or stir-fry. You can also add it to your pasta or any sauces you make. Experiment to see what you like and try different methods of cooking.
Share with me your progress and questions or learn more healthy habits by joining my Facebook group: Healthy Habits For A Happy Life.
Check our my most recent posts.
- Healthy Habits Series: Kitchen Clean Up For Your Healthy Eating Made Easy
- Healthy Habits Series: Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs. What’s The Deal?
- Healthy Habits Series: How To Add Fruits & Vegetables Into Your Routine
- Healthy Habits Series: Are You Getting Enough Water Every Day
- Gain The Ability To Create The Right Healthy Grocery List