Struggling to get two pieces of fruit and three cups of vegetables – equivalent to one large salad – into your daily diet? If so, you are one of the more than 290 million Americans who don’t eat the minimum the Centers for Disease Control says we all need. It’s really not that hard to squeeze nutrition into your daily meal plan. The daily minimum of fruit you should be eating is equal to about two pieces. If you’re like me, that’s easier to do than squeezing in vegetables.
The CDC agrees and says most Americans fall into the category of love-fruit/struggle-with-veggies. A recent CDC report revealed 12 percent of Americans meet the fruit minimum while only 9 percent eat enough vegetables. Here’s what you need to do to join the 10 percent of Americans who eat not only the minimum but more fruit and vegetables over the course of a day.
These suggestions show ways to reach the minimum threshold for fruit:
Day One: In the morning, eat one orange. In the afternoon, eat one small apple.
Day Two: In the morning, eat one banana. In the afternoon, eat seven strawberries.
Day Three: In the morning, eat 12 grapes. In the afternoon, eat one small pear.
Now let’s try it with vegetables. The minimum amount of vegetables you need each day is three cups. Think of this as about one big salad or a couple of vegetable side dishes. Here are ways to pack your meals with enough vegetables
Add to a taco plate:
- 1 cup cabbage and carrot coleslaw
- 1 cup Pico de Gallo made with tomato, peppers, lime, cilantro and onion
- Half an avocado
Heap this onto your taco or burrito or put it on the side. Think of tomato as a fruit and you’ll realize this strategy also adds to your fruit count.
Or make these the base for a crunchy salad that meets your minimum amount of vegetables for the day:
- One small pepper
- Half a cucumber
- A cup of lettuce
This salad base could provide one big luncheon salad if you add meat and/or beans. Another option is to use half this base as a side for lunch and the other half as a side for dinner.
Use your veggie requirements as sides for Sunday dinner.
- One potato
- Two carrots
- Half a cucumber
Root vegetables are the ultimate comfort food, and they count towards your daily minimum. Use them alongside lunch or dinner. Roast one potato to eat with your main meal, and add a crunchy salad of two diced carrots with half a cucumber.
Eat your vegetables because they contain certain key nutrients—such as fiber—that cannot be found anywhere else other than in plants. Fiber keeps your digestive system healthy, and the phytochemicals in plant foods provide disease-fighting nutrients.
Fruits and vegetables are dense in nutrients but low in calories. Eating plenty of these plant foods makes it easier for you to maintain or lose weight.
Read More: What Is the Daily Minimum of Fruit and Veg?