The United States Department of Agriculture advised people to eat more produce in its Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. Only 3 to 4 percent of people in the region eat three servings of vegetables a day, according to the 2012 Community and Health Assessment by Healthy Adams County and the Healthy York County Coalition.
Intake depends on age, sex and activity level. I aim for about five servings — two fruit and three vegetable in a day — which equates to about 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables. I usually measure the fruit I eat to keep my sugar in check, but I just eyeball veggies because most are lower in calories.
I started eating five servings a day about two years ago when I began tracking my calories. Eating more fruits and vegetables every day gives me more energy and leaves me feeling satisfied between meals.
Here are five ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet.
1. Don’t forget about breakfast. Make a smoothie with kale or spinach and fruit, or add veggies to your eggs to get an early start at meeting your quota.
2. Have a salad as lunch or dinner. I eat salads mostly for lunch, which knocks out about two servings of vegetables. I include protein with greens to make sure I’m eating enough calories per meal. I have fewer cravings throughout the day when I eat a vegetable-dense lunch.
3. Substitute veggies or a side salad for french fries when dining out. Many restaurants serve sandwiches and entrees in larger-than-necessary portions. Adding veggies to your meal can help keep your calories down and stop you from over eating.
4. Make produce your go-to snack: Try carrots with hummus, a turkey-lettuce wrap, Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, or whole pieces of fruit. Slice veggies and keep them in a container in your refrigerator so you don’t have to chop food every time you want a snack. I also nosh on whole grains, but I usually lean toward fruits and vegetables, sometimes paired with protein because I find it more satiating.
5. Spread the health. Bring a fruit- or vegetable-based appetizer or salad to a barbecue or dinner party to make sure there’s a healthy option on the table.
Bonus tip: Stock your refrigerator and freezer.