Here’s a new and revolutionary idea in health: eating more fruits and vegetables is good for you.
What a news flash, huh? While we understand this to be true, it’s amazing how frequently we take the road most traveled and completely fail in this respect by gravitating towards the bad stuff–cookies, candy, sugar, power drinks. Given a choice between two cookies or a piece of delicious fresh fruit, many of us find it hard to make the right decision.
Consider the scientific facts. According to a blog post by the Harvard School of Public Health, benefits of eating fruits and vegetables include “Lower blood pressure; reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and probably some cancers; lower risk of eye and digestive problems; and a mellowing effect on blood sugar that can help keep appetite in check.”
Fine. Let’s assume that these public health oriented do-gooders might be right. So who cares? I’m going about my life at this moment teetering on a decision between a bowl of oatmeal with fresh peaches for breakfast and a shiny glazed old-fashioned donut (maybe four) on the way to work. With a large coffee for added buzz effect.
How’s this blood-pressure and avoidance of bad stuff somewhere in the cloudy future going to affect me right now, today, this minute?
I’m glad I asked. And truth be known, it’s a conversation I have with myself more often than I’d like to admit. Which is better than never, because then I’d be losing the battle of inner chemistry.
The results of better living through nutrition are more calm and serenity, focus, clarity of mind, better decision making, quicker responses. Yeah, I know–still pretty abstract, right? We’re still vaguely interested in what we get out of this. Or we’re walking straight to the donut shop.
The bottom line is that on a daily basis, you’ll have less friction with family, friends, co-workers, and other members of the human race; you’ll perform better at your job and be more eligible for improvements in your job status; if you’re unemployed, you’ll be more appealing to potential employers because you’ll radiate health and what I call “positude”; you’ll feel better about yourself and have more confidence in your average daily dealings, as well as the occasional crisis. In short, you’re going to have a better day and a better outlook.
So how do we get more fruits and vegetables, and how do we raise our chances that we’ll choose that stuff over all the yummy, sweet, delicious bad choices fighting for our attention? The Harvard School of Public Health suggests the following:
- Keep fruit out where you can see it. That way you’ll be more likely to eat it. Keep it out on the counter or in the front of the fridge.
- Get some every meal, every day. Try filling half your plate with vegetables at each meal. Serving up salads, stir fry, or other vegetable-rich fare makes it easier to reach this goal. Bonus points if you can get some fruits and vegetables at snack time, too.
- Explore the produce aisle and choose something new. Variety is the key to a healthy diet. Get out of a rut and try some new fruits and vegetables.
- Bag the potatoes. Choose other vegetables that are packed with more nutrients and more slowly digested carbs.
- Make it a meal. Try some new healthy recipes where vegetables take center stage.
You may find yourself going through peaks and valleys in nutrition, but the more you know, the more likely you are to make better choices. The point is to keep coming back to ideas about nutrition, continue to revisit and focus on what’s healthy,even when you’re not doing it. Since we forget easily and go back to our old ways, keeping reminders around us always helps.
What is your biggest guilty pleasure in food? What will you replace it with? How can you treat yourself without a retreat back to gluttony?
Community Food Bank’s mission is to provide food, nutritional education and advocacy for our neighbors in need within San Benito County.