While it seems no country actually agrees on the minimum number of servings of fruits and vegetables we need to eat, one thing is clear, between 60% to 75% of us aren’t reaching the minimums in the US.
Or could it be that when we are asked to think about whether we are reaching the minimum, we don’t think we are, because we can’t visualize the minimum?
Confusion seems to reign when it comes to what a serving is. There are still questions as to whether french fries and ketchup count as vegetables.
Restaurant serving sizes, highly processed food and the lack of time, resources and access are factors as well.
If your morning breakfast, your lunch, your dinner and even your snacks look similar to these images from The Kitchn’s Executive Editor Faith Durand, congratulate yourself, you’re eating the US minimum recommendation of fruits and vegetables.
Is it enough for you based on your age, activity level, current health status and calorie needs?
It may be or it may not be but the article provides a link to “The Fruit & Vegetable Calculator” from the CDC so you can determine what your personal needs are there.
If you’re not reaching these minimum values, here are a few ways to help you achieve them.
1. Add a side of strawberries, a few slices of kiwi, or some orange wedges to your morning breakfast. Whether it’s cold or hot cereal or eggs and bacon, one cup of fruit is your daily recommended fruit serving. It doesn’t need to be fresh, frozen fruit works as well too.
2. As a mid-morning snack, grab a banana, an apple or some other skin on fruit, to eat on the go while you’re busy doing your daily tasks.
3. Add a slice of avocado, a handful of sprouts or spinach as a side to your sandwich. Heck add it on top of your sandwich. You’ve just taken care of a serving of vegetables.
4. Instead of that bowl of ice cream for dessert, or that late night snack before bed, eat the vitamin rich seeds from a pomegranate, a plate of watermelon or some fresh pineapple. Each of those can satisfy a sweet craving, without the fat and calories.
5. Steam some vegetables – mix up broccoli, squash and red bell peppers. Or, cook some cabbage or leafy greens. Make vegetables the main portion of your meal 2 or 3 nights a week instead of the meat.