Eat More Vegetables: The Easiest Way to Feel Energetic and Healthy

October 4, 2017 4:28 pm
Leave your thoughts How to Eat More Vegetables

When was the last time you sprung up out of bed with energy?

Do you remember what it feels like to go through your day feeling light and lean?

What about looking at your hair, skin, or nails, and thinking “damn! I’m vibrant!”

I’m so vibrant NOTHING can get in my way!

Most of us don’t feel like this too often. And it’s a shame.

But by making a simple change to the way you eat, you can get a hell of a lot closer to feeling that way.

I mean… I can’t promise you’ll feel like that guy up there all the time. I don’t have superpowers (yet).

But you’ll have a much better chance of enjoying life and feeling ready to do things.

How do you do this, you ask?

Listen to your grandma’s advice and…

Eat your vegetables!!! 🙂

In this post I’ll cover everything you need to know about:

1. Why you should eat more veggies,

2. What the best sources are, and

3. How to make sure you’re eating eating enough without fussing too much.

Let’s get down to it!

Why do I Have to Eat These Stinkin’ Vegetables Anyway?

What’s the deal with these funny coloured things?

Here’s the deal: Veggies are the BASE of any health-promoting diet.

If you find a diet that does NOT recommend eating vegetables, it’s about as wrong as a putting ketchup on mac n’ cheese (seriously, what’s up with that?!).

It ain’t gonna work. So just back away and find something more intelligent.

But anyway, vegetables have a host of health promoting qualities including:

  • Vitamins and phytochemicals that promote healthy bodily function
  • Those same vitamins and phytochemicals also combat chronic diseases like diabetes and even cancer
  • Lots of fibre which helps keep cholesterol low and keeps you regular
  • Dark leafy green vegetables are a great source of calcium, contributing to healthy bones
  • Vegetables are full of protein, healthy fats, and slow digesting carbohydrates that keep you feeling energetic and vibrant all day

And if all that wasn’t enough, vegetables are basically like Batman for protecting you against fat gain and promoting weight loss because:

  • They keep you feeling full. Their high fibre and water content which makes fighting cravings a lot easier
  • They have barely any calorie content. That full, satisfied feeling you get from vegetables comes at almost not caloric cost!

Seriously, you could sit down to 5 plates full of broccoli, eat them all, and still lose weight. The only problem is you’d likely lose all your friends as well after the flatulence that would give you.

But you don’t need 5 plates full of broccoli. I’ll get more into that later.

In the meantime, check out this site that shows what 200 calories of different types of foods looks like. This really gives you a perspective on what foods are better for filling up on:

Both of these are 200 calories. One is gonna make you feel very full. The other will just leave you wanting more.

So yeah, vegetables are pretty cool. In fact just writing this post is making me wanna go make a big bowl of grilled broccoli and eat it. But on to the next point…

What Vegetables Should I be Eating?

Any and all of them, really.

Variety is the name of the game. Different colours on vegetables mean they have different concentrations of vitamins and health-promoting phytochemicals. They all benefit us in slightly different ways so you want to get as much variety as you can.

Try making your meals colourful. Maybe a serving of green and orange vegetables at one meal, some purple and yellow at the next meal, some red and green the meal after that, and you’re good to go

Don’t those veggies look so colourful and inviting? And that’s just the peppers!

The other thing to consider is what vegetables grow near you and what’s in season where you live. Vegetables lose their nutritional value the longer they’ve been in transit. The more often you can eat local vegetables that are in season, the more nutritional bang-for-your-buck you’ll be getting. Plus you’ll have an easy way to build variety into your diet when the seasons change.

But don’t worry about being perfect to start. Just find a vegetable you can tolerate and find a way of preparing it that you enjoy. Even if it’s the same thing every time, don’t stress. We’re building a habit here and something is better than nothing. You’ll get better as you go.

Anyway, you may be wondering how much to eat and how best to prepare your vegetables. Those are great questions. I’ll address them next!

How Much Should I Eat?

Ideally, if you wanna be a health rock-star, 10 servings of vegetables per day is where you want to be.

But if you’re just starting out, aim for 5 servings.

Personally, I tend to get between 5 and 10 servings a day and I’m doing pretty well.

How big is a serving, you ask?

Well it’s pretty simple: Hold your hand in a clenched fist, like you’re about to punch someone…

But don’t actually punch anyone. Just look at it.

Because that’s going to be how you measure portion sizes. Try to eat a minimum of 5 fist-sized portions of vegetables every day.

Here’s what one serving of vegetables looks like.

That’s it. It’s super simple. You can get them all at once or spread them out over your meals. The world is your oyster!

Although, I don’t recommend eating 10 servings at once. I’ve done it before. It’s not very comfortable.

And now for the grand finale where we teach you how to go from a vegetable hating curmudgeon into a lean mean veggie eating machine!

How Can I Prepare Vegetables So They Actually Taste Good?!

This is a tricky one for me. Growing up, I had the very good fortune of a mother who almost always made home-cooked meals and always included vegetables. She wouldn’t let me have dessert unless I ate my veggies.

So I learned to like them at a young age.

Not everyone developed a taste for vegetables at a young age, though, and that can be a problem. It’s nothing to be ashamed of either.

The good news is you can get past it.

Here’s what I’ve found works for most people:

1. Find ways to prepare vegetables that taste good.

Don’t worry if that means you need to slather them in salt and butter at first. You’ll outgrow this eventually but we need a starting point. For example, my mother used to make “skillet salad” that was basically zucchini, red peppers, and corn, fried and covered in cheese and salt. It was probably a bit of a calorie bomb but my siblings and I LOVED the stuff. It tasted like candy. And it got us eating our veggies without a fuss. Now, my tastebuds have matured, and I enjoy veggies almost any way.

2. Start to experiment

Once you’ve found a way to get a couple of vegetables in regularly, you can prepare them quickly, and you enjoy the way they taste, start trying new methods of preparation. Maybe try one new method every week or every few days. This way, you’ll be expanding your variety.

Then, once you’ve got some variety with those few vegetables you like, start experimenting with one new vegetable every week. Be adventurous and try something new. Don’t stress if you don’t like it. Now you know for next time. Over time, you’ll get it right.

3. Start Enjoying them?!?!

Now that you’ve got a few different vegetables and a few different recipes under your belt, you may start to notice a funny thing. You’ll begin to enjoy vegetables, and even start to miss them when you don’t have them for a day.

See, here’s the thing: You develop a taste for what you eat often. So if you’re eating sugary stuff all the time, you’ll crave that. If you’re eating healthy veggies all the time, you’ll tend to crave them. Momentum works both ways so once you start, work hard to make it a habit.

4. Be patient

It takes a long time to change your tastes and preferences in food. You’re going to screw up and meet lots of frustrations along the way. You’re going to make recipes that are absolute failures. You’ll likely pass off more than one or two of your “creations” to your dog. It’s ok. You’ll get better if you are patient, persistent, and kind to yourself.

(NOTE: If you find it nearly impossible to to create healthy meals or even prepare the right foods, week in and week out, you have to check out these simple, easy to follow steps. These free inforgrahics remove the guesswork. Learn more here.)

How to Eat More Vegetables

Alright, How Do I Get Started?

Here are just a few very easy ways to get started preparing vegetables so they taste great!

Grilled:

Chop your vegetables into 1×1 inch chunks and toss them in 1 tbsp of olive oil. Sprinkle a liberal portion of sea salt on them and put them in a grill basket on your barbecue.

Leave them over medium heat for about 15-20 minutes, tossing them every 5 minutes or so. They make a great side with a serving of protein for dinner.

This works best with:

– Broccoli

– Asparagus

– Bell Peppers (any colour)

– Zucchini

– Egg plant (you may need a bit longer on the grill for these

– Mushrooms (button or portobello)

Steamed:

Chop up your veggies and put them in a steaming colander over an inch of water. Let the water come to a boil and steam your vegetables until desired doneness. Season with salt and a little butter if you like.

 

Sauteéd:

Dice vegetables while you heat up 2 tsp of olive in a pan on low heat. Toss your veggies in the pan and stir them occasionally till they reach desired doneness. Check out this guide from Back on Pointe for how long to steam, boil, or sautée most vegetables for.

Season with salt and pepper or your favourite spices to add some flavour.

Oven Roasted:

Preheat your oven to 400°. While it’s preheating, chop your vegetables into 1×1 inch chunks and toss them in 1 tbsp of olive oil. Sprinkle a liberal portion of sea salt on them and lay them flat on a baking tray.

Once your oven is preheated, pop the tray in and let the oven work it’s magic. Most vegetables will be done in between 25-35 minutes. Everyone prefers them a little differently so experiment and see what you like.

Raw (with dip):

Chop ‘em up how you like, get yourself a tasty dip or hummus and enjoy. This is perfect for a quick snack.

Make a Salad:

Salads are simple to make and delicious. Here’s a quick guide to making a healthy salad:

Choose your leaf (choose one or two of the below and put a large portion in a bowl):

– Baby spinach

– Mixed field greens

– Romaine lettuce

– Head lettuce

– Some combination of the above

Choose your toppers (Pick 2 or 3 toppers and throw a couple tablespoons each on top of your salad):

– Croutons

– Pumpkin seeds

– Sunflower seeds

– Slivered almonds

– Cashew pieces

– Fresh berried (strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries)

– Cheese (goat cheese is ideal but others work as well)

Choose your dressing (1 or 2 tablespoons goes a long way. Dressings are very calorie dense):

There are hundreds of options to choose from with dressings. Generally a vinaigrette works well for a lighter salad and cream-based dressings like caesar or ranch will be a little heavier. Experiment and find what you like most.

In a Pasta:

Grill or roast some vegetables and mix them in with your next pasta meal. This is a great way to make your meal lighter in calories but just as filling!

 

Are You Up For It?

Now, here’s my challenge to you: For the next two weeks, try to make this your priority above everything else. See if you can make it into a habit. You might not notice drastic changes in just two weeks but you’ll be building one of the foundational habits of a healthy diet and, probably start to feel a bit better as well.

(NOTE: If you find it nearly impossible to to create healthy meals or even prepare the right foods, week in and week out, you have to check out these simple, easy to follow steps. These free inforgrahics remove the guesswork. Learn more here.)

How to Eat More Vegetables

I like to lift heavy weights, write about fitness, motivation, and psychology, and coach people to achieve their fitness goals.

When I’m not doing that I’m most likely at home cooking, playing board games with friends, or curled up with a book.

He also keeps his own blog over at www.francisnitsch.com

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