In the recent post My Best Advice for Lasting Weight Loss, the first of three essential habits for lasting weight loss I laid out was to “eat at least 5 servings of veggies every day”. I want to dig into that recommendation a little more to show you how YOU can actually eat at least 5 servings of fresh vegetables every day and feel great doing it.
Before I dive into specific how-to’s, let’s clarify what one serving of veggies actually includes:
- 1 cup raw or cooked vegetables = about the size of your fist = 1 serving
- 2 cups raw leafy greens = about the size of two fists = 1 cup cooked leafy greens = 1 serving
- Start with veggies at breakfast— add veggies to scrambled eggs, make a veggie omelet, throw a fistful (or two) or leafy greens into your morning smoothie, or enjoy some leftover veggies from dinner with some protein.
- Snack on veggies during the day— dip cut raw veggies in hummus, baba ganoush, salsa, or guacamole, have a side salad as a snack, or make ‘ants-on-a log’ with celery sticks, nut butter, and a few raisins.
- Include veggies at lunch— whatever you’re having, whether its a sandwich, chicken salad, soup, or leftovers from dinner (my favorite lunch), its easy to add some extra veggies, salad, or veggie soup on the side.
- Keep eating veggies at dinner— dinner is the meal when people eat the most veggies anyway, if you’re already eating veggies as part of a balanced dinner, keep at it!
Here’s an example meal plan for how this works:
- Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs with 1 cup leftover sauteed veggies from dinner = 1 serving veggies
- Snack: 1 apple with a few almonds = 0 servings veggies (but great snack!)
- Lunch: 1 bowl minestrone soup (1 cup veggies), side salad with veggies (about 2 cups), 1 whole grain roll = 2 servings veggies
- Snack: 2 stalks celery ants-on-a-log with nut butter and raisins = 1 serving veggies
- Dinner: salmon fillet, brown rice pilaf, and 1 cup broccoli spears = 1 serving veggies
Total = 5 servings veggies
Now that wasn’t so hard, was it? Eating 5 servings of veggies a day is actually pretty simple if you have the veggies at home to eat. In the winter, think frozen veggies, In the spring, think leafy greens and sprouts. And in the summer and fall, enjoy the abundance of fresh local produce in your area. The more colorful the veggies you choose throughout the day and throughout the week, the better.
You may also notice that eating all these veggies helps with some other things (besides weight loss or weight maintenance). You’ll feel fuller longer, have fewer cravings for sweets since your blood sugar will be more stable, notice improved digestion (although it may take a week or two for your digestive system to get used to the additional fiber), and feel more energetic throughout the day.
Challenge yourself. Eat 5 servings of veggies each day EVERY DAY for 7 days and see how you feel. And, leave your comments below this post!