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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Answering a "Fruits and Veggies" Question for "Fluffy Donna"

Donna of Lose the Fluff asked for advice on including more produce in her diet. (She admits to being one of those 3 to five servings eaters).

Note: Any advice given here is from MY experience and reading on the subject. If you have medical conditions, you may have to modify your diet in very precise ways. This is just me passing on info I've picked up or experienced, not me being your dietitian. Blogs are blogs, not medical or scientific journals. :)

Let's start with some stats from Medical News Today:

The CDC report found that in 2005:

33 per cent of adult Americans ate fruit two or more times a day, with:
- men eating more fruit than women,
- seniors eating more fruit than 35 to 44 year olds,
- Hispanics eating more fruit than other racial/ethnic groups,
- non-Hispanic whites eating the least,
- college graduates eating more fruit than those with lower education levels,
- people earning more than 50,000 US dollars a year eating more fruit than those earning less, and
- people neither obese nor overweight (Body Mass Index, BMI, under 25) eating the most and obese people (BMI over 30) eating the least amount of fruit.

27 per cent of adult Americans ate vegetables three or more times a day, with:
- men eating fewer vegetables than women,
- seniors eating more vegetables than 18 to 24 year olds,
- whites eating more vegetables than other racial/ethnic groups,
- Hispanics eating the least,
- college graduates eating more vegetables than those with lower education levels,
- people earning more than 50,000 US dollars a year eating more vegetables than those earning less, and
- people neither obese nor overweight (BMI under 25) eating the most and overweight people (BMI 25 to 30) eating the least amount of vegetables.

Those are pathetic. Only about 1/3 of Americans eat fruit 2 to 3 times a day, and just over 1/4th of Americans eat veggies 3 or more times a day.

Most Americans aren't getting the recommended minimum of FIVE a day.

More importantly for fatfighters, look at the stats for the fat folks: they eat the least in fruits and veggies. Confirms the adage that you don't get fat on fruits and veggies. Quite the opposite.

There are a multitude of health-promoting benefits in produce (especially minimally processed to raw ones). The enzymes. The vitamins. The minerals. The phytonutrients.

I remember years ago someone I know saying they hated veggies and would just pop a vitamin to cover their bases. I said, "Science isn't all-knowing. They'll find more things in fruits and veggies than we realize we need for good health."

That was in the 80's. Nutritional science HAS found more micronutrients and compounds in produce that are highly beneficial to human health, and you've probably read articles about such things. You hear about resveratrol, anthocyanins, lycopene, etc.

Imagine what's in that produce that they have not isolated yet? A supplement is not a bad thing. It does help cover bases; but good food in a variety of groups and colors is vital.

And for dieters, fruits and veggies are BULK: they fill you up. They're necessary, unless you can stand having tiny amounts at meals.

I know I need to get my intake up, cause that's the only way I can feel FULL and lose weight. Otherwise, I feel deprived and hungry.

Ever seen those articles that show how differently, say, 400 calories looks if it's cheese cubes versus apples? Or chocolate donuts versus garden salads?

You get more bang for the calories.

And fruits can substitute for a sweet craving quite well on many occasions (though, granted, not all). A baked apple is better for you, or a homemade sugar-free apple compote over half a cup of organic frozen yogust, than apple pie with a fatty crust with tons of butter. A frozen banana dipped in a bit of chocolate syrup is better than a banana cream pie.

The more you stay close to a fruit or vegetable's natural form, usually the more you chew, and the more filling it is, often even better for you nutritionally. Ditto veggies. (Although tomatoes give more lycopene when cooked.)

I think getting into the habit of eating raw or minimally processed produce at EVERY MEAL is a beneficial one for health and helps keep dieters feeling more tummy-full. I mean, sit down and eat a small portion of grains and some protein, but eat a lot of zucchini and asparagus with it, then eat an apple and a pear, and tell me you don't feel that tummy-comfort of volume. But zucchini and asparagus are zero-points veggies, and an apple (unless its ginormous) is one point, and so is a pear (ditto about size). You've only added 2 points, but you've gotten FOUR fruits and veggies and made your insides feel like they ate tons!

If you just say you don't like veggies or many fruits, you have to slowly retrain yourself. It can be done. Think of what you wouldn't eat as a kid, but you enjoy now. Taste buds are flexible.

Try new recipes. Be bold.

My hubby, when I met him, only ate iceberg lettuce and celery. That was it. Now, he eats green beans, carrots, asparagus, spinach, romaine and mesclun, peas, and I'm still working to get him to expand his vocabulary (still too restricted).

I mean, it's not like I'm asking you to eat liver or pancreas or animal guts! It's beautiful, colorful stuff that God originally intended us to eat in abundance. (Read Genesis' opening chapters to see what God told them to eat, those perfect new humans. It wasn't cupcakes or burgers.)

So, how to do it? Just start buying stuff and learning how to fix it in ways you like. Make a point of adding two to each meal (to get to six a day), then work up to at least 9 a day. If you can handle more, then more. If you fill up on healthy produce, maybe you won't want the junk, cause you won't have room. :)

And don't allow yourself a processed treat--a diet cookie or popcorn or baked potato chips--until you have something unprocessed that's green, red, purple, blue, yellow, or orange.

Breakfast is a great time to get one veggie or more and one fruit. Regular or Egg white veggie omelettes are probably the best breakfasts for a dieter (low carb or low-fat or Clean Eating). Why? Studies show eggs give you a sense of fullness. You can put as many veggies as you like and want. One of my fave combinations: zucchini, red and green peppers, onions, mushrooms, spinach and tomato. I'll even sprinkle something cheesy on top, sometimes--parmesan or low-fat cheddar. Have an orange or grapefruit or some berries, and there you go. A bonanza of produce!

If you prefer a cold breakfast, get a quality, high-fiber, no-sugar cereal and add lots of berries, or cut up peaches, or a banana and some dried cranberries or raisins. Don't just have grain and milk. Have the fruit. Then take some cut-up veggies with a low-fat dip or some low-fat cheese (string cheese) or an apple and some peanut butter to work for an afternoon snack. (Low fat is actually better than nonfat for a dip, cause you absorb nutrients from veggies better with the presence of some fat.)

Apples, bananas, grapes, and pears make year-round work-friendly snacks. Try plums and peaches in the summer, and cherries!

Try something scary-looking to produce uninitiates: kale, collards, eggplant, weird mushrooms, radicchio, leeks, okra, pomegranates, bean sprouts, bok choy, sugar custard apple, sapote.

Give them all a try!

What f/v's did I have yesterday (my first day trying to get back to my higher counts):

papaya (two servings with my breakfast eggs)
artichoke hearts (adore em)
lettuce (two servings)
green peppers
portobello mushroom (two servings)
watermelon (2 servings for dinner's dessert)

Processed f/v's:
pasta sauce, fresh (poured on the eggplant and meatballs)
apple juice, bottled

Today, I plan to have fresh carrot juice and plums with my veggie scramble breakfast (got up late), and I'll have a salad with lunch (or maybe lightly saute a big honking mess of bok choy and have vegan dumplings, mmmmmmm).

If I had cantaloupe, I'd love some. Makes for a great breakfast fruit, and with some cottage cheese, make a delightful light breakfast or lunch, I find. (I wish I had some.)


Let's gobble up that produce. This is one place where it pays off in good health to be wanton. :)


UPDATE: Since Donna can eat apples and citrus, I'm hoping she can also eat spinach and can try (and tweak as needed) the following recipe:

Apple and Spinach Salad

Donna might like this lite apple and sweet-potato bake.

Mangoes are still abundant (and cheaper) out there. This roasted mango sorbet allows one to enjoy a cooked fruit as a dessert treat.

Plums have been great this year, and they can be BAKED with cinnamon!

Along with veggies, fruits can be roasted/baked with chicken breasts and pork, such as peaches and apricots, pears and grapes, pineapple (great with ham). EXPERIMENT!

1 comment:

Donna said...

I probably should have mentioned I'm allergic to most raw fruits and vegetables, which makes it really hard to get all the produce in my diet. But this post is still very inspiring!! There are so many reasons why I should be taking that extra step to cook my veggies and find ways to get them in my diet!

I'm going to post a question related to this on my blog. Thanks for getting the ball rolling!