There are thousands of diets advocated by the health and wellness community, but the only thing they all seem to agree on is that we should eat mostly vegetables.
This makes sense, as eating fresh vegetables is the best way to get your daily dose of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fiber.
However, eating more vegetables can be difficult, especially when you’re used to the Standard American Diet (S.A.D). Follow these 5 tips for a healthy diet and you’ll have an easier time finding ways to eat your vegetables.
1. Start your day with vegetables
Eating veggies for breakfast might seem strange, but it’s actually the best way to start your day.
While it’s good to eat vegetables throughout the day, when you eat them in the morning you know you are starting the day off right. When your breakfast consists of a plate full of vegetables, you don’t have to worry about circumstances getting in the way of your ideal daily vegetable intake later in the day.
Yummy options include roasted sweet potatoes with asparagus or zucchini, veggie fritters, stir-fried kale with bacon and an egg on top, or, for a special treat, savory whole-wheat crepes with mushrooms and pureed spinach.
2. Eat the Rainbow
The beautiful bounty of colors that different vegetables feature actually give you a clue as to what nutrients can be found in them. Different colors are the result of different vitamins and minerals. Therefore, when you eat a diverse selection of colorful veggies, you ensure that you are getting full-spectrum nutrition.
Of course, you might want to favor some colors more than others. For example, dark leafy greens should make a prominent appearance in at least one meal every day, while potatoes might want to be restricted to only a couple times a week.
3. Don’t Just Eat Salad
Some vitamins are activated when certain vegetables are cooked, while others are more available in raw form. To make sure that you get the most out of your food, eat a lot of cooked vegetables and occasional raw vegetables.
Keep in mind though, that according to Chinese medicine, eating too much raw or cold food can dampen the Spleen, leading to symptoms like sluggish digestion, loose stools, and generalized digestive imbalance. Raw food is most desirable in hot climates or in individuals with hot constitutions, but in most cases cooked vegetables should take precedent.
In winter and fall, slow cook, boil, or roast your vegetables to infuse them with the warmth you need to fend off the cold. As the weather gets warmer in the spring and summertime, try lightly steaming or sautéing vegetables. This way, they can still keep their fresh crunch but are more easily digested than they would be straight out of the refrigerator.
4. Remember Pickles
Fermented foods are too often forgotten in the Standard American Diet, but they are a great way to get all the nutritional benefits of vegetables plus a healthy dose of probiotics to boost your digestion and immune capacity.
5. Build Meals Around Vegetables
Ideally, you should be eating a substantial amount of vegetables in every meal, but if you’re only thinking about vegetables as side-dishes, you’ll have a hard time reaching the ideal daily nutrition quota.
There’s a good solution to this problem: don’t make a meat or a starch the star of the show. Instead, see if you can build your meal around a highlighted vegetable. You can still include meat and starch if you want, but change the proportions so vegetables are featured more prominently and everything else is used as a supporting role.
For example, instead of making spaghetti with tomato sauce, where the plate is mostly filled with spaghetti, change your perspective and make a vegetable ragout with carrots, kale, mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes. Serve 3 parts ragout to 1 part pasta and voila! You’ve made your meal healthier, tastier, and much more interesting.
When you incorporate more vegetables into your meals and use these 5 tips for a healthy diet, you won’t have to buy expensive supplements to get the daily nutrition you need. In fact, you’ll feel better, have more energy, strengthen your immunity, and you’ll have a greater diversity of flavors available to you for more delicious meals.
Do you have any recipes or creative ways to incorporate more vegetables into your diet? Share them in the comments section!