Week 3 Nutrition Habit: Get Colorful Veggies at EVERY Meal
How many times were you told as a kid to, “Eat your vegetables!”? If you’re a parent, how many times have you begged your own kids to do this? We all know they’re good for us, but what is it about veggies that makes them so valuable?
Vegetables are the staple of all high quality diets that support optimal health. They are packed with nutrients your body needs for best functioning and performance. Full of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants, colorful vegetables support your immune system and help to reduce inflammation. You can think of them as nature’s medicine. They’re also packed with fiber but low in calories, which means we can eat a ton of them without feeling heavy or sluggish. Bottom line is, the more vegetables you eat, the better you will feel, the more energy you will have, the more likely you are to get and stay lean.
This week your focus will be on adding, not subtracting. A common and maybe even logical approach to dieting is focusing on what you can’t have and eliminating those foods completely from your diet. While this may seem like a good idea in theory, ultimately it just leaves you feeling deprived. As you fixate on what’s forbidden, your diet will likely backfire and you may find yourself in a situation (ahem, binge) compensating for all the favorite foods you’ve kept off limits. Instead of going down the road of deprivation, including more of the foods that add value and nutrients to your body.
Vegetables are the staple of all high quality diets that support optimal health.
Check out this website for a visual comparison of foods that have all been measured out to 200 calories. It’s easy to see which foods give you the most bang for your buck, and which foods will put a huge dent in your daily calorie intake “allowance” without much nutritional value, if any.
As for portion sizes, check out the same portion control guide you got last week. Men should aim to get at least 2 fist sized portions of non-starchy veggies at every meal while women should aim to get at least 1 fist sized portion of non-starchy veggies at every meal. However, I don’t think anyone has ever experienced negative consequences eating too many veggies, so don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to these portion sizes.
How Does the Week 3 Challenge Work?
Newbies: Men: You get a point if you eat a minimum of 6 fist sized portions of veggies every day.
Women: You get a point if you eat a minimum of 4 fist sized portions of veggies every day.
Ninjas: To earn your point, do what the newbies are doing AND…. Drink only calorie-free beverages every day. Do you put cream in your coffee or honey in your tea? Try going without it this week. Do you drink fruit juices, milk, soda or, alcohol? Can you say “no” to these beverages for one week? If you notice resistance, ask yourself why you’re so attached to whatever beverage it is you can’t give up. Get curious (here is that practice of awareness again) about your reaction to this challenge, whether it’s no problem for you or feels like a big deal.
To earn your point you must do these things for each MAJOR meal i.e. breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Strategies for Making it Happen:
- Focus on adding veggies to your existing diet.
Start with what you already eat. What meals or snacks could you add veggies where they are lacking? Here are some example meals you could experiment with:
- Sautéing broccoli with your eggs and bacon.
- Blending up a giant handful of spinach in your smoothie.
- Including a small chopped salad alongside your burger.
- Adding diced cucumber and tomato on top of cottage cheese.
- Baking brussel sprouts to go with your meat and potatoes.
There are so many ways to add veggies to your daily diet. Here are a few more general ideas:
- Eat them raw.
- Slice up some crudités and enjoy them solo, with a tasty dip or alongside your favorite protein source..
- Add them to smoothies.
- Toss up a colorful salad.
- Eat them steamed or stir-fried.
- Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peas, brussel sprouts, bell peppers, onions, so many!!
- Eat them grilled or baked.
- Stick ‘em on skewers and heat them up on the grill.
- Chop ‘em into bite-sized pieces, throw them in a pan, drizzle with olive oil and bake!
- Consider buying veggies that are pre-prepped such as chopped and rinsed broccoli, cauliflower, or a mix, frozen stir fry, pre-packaged salad mix.
- Make it easy and convenient – prepare and cook enough veggies so you have leftovers for at least 1 more meal.