A new year marks the time for resolutions, celebration, and for many people… the perfect time to finally vow to exercise more, lose weight, take better care of yourself and ultimately, live an overall healthier lifestyle.
by guest columnist Antoine L. Oakley, Communications Manager for Produce for Better Health Foundation
A new year marks the time for resolutions, celebration, and for many people… the perfect time to finally vow to exercise more, lose weight, take better care of yourself and ultimately, live an overall healthier lifestyle. However, New Year’s resolutions focused on adopting healthy behaviors are often abandoned after a few weeks. One thing to remember about adopting a healthy lifestyle is that consistency is the key!
If you have any goals for getting healthier, you may want to include “eat more fruit and vegetables” on your list. Eating plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables adds variety and flavor to your diet. Studies have shown that eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may help to prevent certain diseases, including some cancers and heart disease. Enjoying more fruits and vegetables also plays a role in weight management because they help us feel full due to their water and fiber content. They also provide important vitamins and minerals needed to maintain good health.
Adopting a long-term, active lifestyle and a healthy diet – rich in fruit and veggies – is the most effective way to lose, maintain, and promote a healthy weight for years to come. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is just like it sounds – eating nutrient-rich foods, drinking healthy drinks, and being physically active. Adopting also means doing these things on a consistent basis – making a healthy lifestyle your way of life!
Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D. is President and CEO of Produce for Better Health Foundation, a national nonprofit whose mission is to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables for a healthier America and the organization behind the Fruits & Veggies –More Matters initiative. Pivonka says that dieting is not the answer. "We should all be eating more of the things that are good for us and less of those that are not. That has always been and will always be a better solution then temporarily denying ourselves one or more entire categories of food. The good news is that increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat is easy because fresh, frozen, canned and dried fruits and vegetables as well as 100 percent juice all count toward your daily fruit and vegetable needs.”
Whether weight loss or simply taking better care of yourself is your goal, leading a healthy lifestyle is one resolution that everyone should make. Here are some quick and easy suggestions for incorporating fruit and vegetables into every eating occasion in the new year and beyond:
1. Plan Ahead: Pre-slice fruit and vegetables at home and bring them to work/school to snack on throughout the day or grab on-the-go for a post workout snack.
2. Keep Fruit and Vegetables in Sight: Something as simple as a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter, or pre-packaged containers of fruit and vegetables in the refrigerator or pantry is the way to go. The idea is to make fruits and vegetables just as convenient as the bag of chips.
3. Add Fruit and Vegetables to Traditional Favorites: Add fresh or dried fruit to a salad; top peanut butter sandwiches with peaches or pears; mash cauliflower instead of potatoes; try pumpkin or butternut squash pancakes or waffles; add pureed carrots to sweeten spaghetti sauce without added sugar, and so on. These few simple changes can refresh and liven up any dish.
4. Variety is the Spice of Life: Buying a combination of fresh, canned, frozen, dried, and 100% juice maximizes nutrition, minimizes waste, saves money, and assures that there is always a variety of fruits and vegetables available in the home.
5. Make it Enjoyable: Make it a family occasion by incorporating fun themes like Fruity Fridays, Smoothie Saturdays, Sweet Potato Sundays or Try a New Vegetable Tuesday. A transition to a healthier lifestyle can be made much easier when it’s done in an entertaining way!
For more information about maintaining a healthy weight along with user-friendly advice on how to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, including recipes, nutrition information, tips for getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables, and even videos, visit us at www.MoreMatters.org.