While many of us know we need to eat our fruits and veggies many of us have a hard time fitting them all in. I am always telling my clients to eat more fruits and veggies. But what exactly are the recommendations? Can it really be done?
What is the daily recommendation?
Gone are the days of “5-a-day.” Many years ago the campaign it changed to “Fruits and Veggies More Matters” since we need to get “more” in our diet.
How much should we get? Most adults should get 1½ -2 cups of fruit each day and 2½ -3 cups of vegetables. On the low-end that is four cups and on the high-end that is five cups combined. This helpful page gives you an idea of how much is a cup.
Can it be done?
If you plan a little bit, you can get in all your cups in a day, every day. In the past week, I’ve made an effort to count, since I tend to come up short myself. Yes, even dietitians don’t do it all perfectly.
Here are the fruits and veggies I had today (I did eat other foods too):
Breakfast: 1 cup frozen, unsweetened cherries in my morning smoothie.
Lunch: 12 baby carrots (equal to 1 cup) and 1 cup raw snap peas
Afternoon Snack: 10 large strawberries (equal to 1 cup) plus ½ cup blueberries.
Dinner: 1 cup mandarin oranges (drained) and 1 cup steamed broccoli, plus red bell pepper strips in the diner (~ ½ cup).
Total: 3½ cups fruit and 3½ cups vegetables = 7 cups.
How to add more in:
Include at least one cup of fruit with breakfast. Whether dried, frozen or fresh, include it on your cereal in your smoothie, or on the side. Some mornings I include two different fruits in the smoothie (such as a banana and strawberries).
Have at least three cups during the day, between breakfast and your evening meal. Here is my personal tip: on Sunday I prepare four-five plastic, resealable containers each containing at least two cups of vegetables: 12 baby carrots, one cup of snap peas, 12 grape tomatoes, 6 celery sticks, and/or ½ of a cucumber, sliced. Choose your favorites. Also, include at least one fruit for your afternoon snack: apple, orange, berries, pear, peaches or your other favorite.
Dinner: Make half your plate vegetables. For several years I have suggested to my clients that they make half their “plate” vegetables or fruit. While this does not have to literally be half the plate, make it half the meal. Choose from different vegetables, salad, fruit or any combination, but half of your meal should consist of vegetables and fruit and this helps people fill out the rest of their fruits and veggies for the day. See a graphic here.