Make changes gradually and daily. For example, if you immediately jump from 2 daily servings to 10+ servings of fruit and vegetables you may give up because you haven’t created tricks to easily prepare and add them into your meal plan. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive or time-consuming. It’s a habit you get used to, and every day it gets easier. The important thing is to get started now. One of the easiest places to start is adding lots of vegetables and fruit. Fruits and veggies contribute lots of fibre, little fat and little sugar. They also help you feel fuller and reduce the urge to snack.
Vegetables and fruit are:
- excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals
- high in fibre (to keep your digestive system healthy)
- low in fat and calories
Here are some easy ways to eat more vegetables:
- Follow Canada’s Food Guide on healthy eating.
- Re-think your plate. Fill half your plate with vegetables, a quarter with grain products and a quarter with meat or alternatives.
- Prepare extra raw veggies when you have a few extra minutes: carrots, rutabagas, celery, turnips, broccoli and others can be prepared a few days ahead making it easier to grab and go
- Add a side salad at lunch. Pack cut vegetable sticks with a low-fat dip.
- Buy packages of pre-cut carrots, peppers, leafy greens or mixed fruit to make life a little easier if you’re rushing to make lunches each morning.
- Prepare extra cooked veggies at a time to have easy additions into future meals. Here are a few examples:
- Cook extra potatoes (yes, they are veggies too!) at dinner You can add cooled, sliced potatoes to a green salad or an omelette.
- Roast 2 pounds of beets at a time (golden are a favourite), They are great diced cold and added to a salad or quickly reheated for dinner the next night.
- Try roasting cabbage (red or green). A great addition to any meal and wonderful when reheated too.
- Visit a farmers’ market and buy fresh-picked vegetables and fruit. Some local markets are open year round.
- Eat regular meals. Skipping a meal – especially breakfast – can lead to overeating throughout the day. And when you’re very hungry, it’s hard to make healthy choices.
- Cut back on portion size. (North American portions have grown steadily over the last few decades.)
- Use smaller dishes. Believe it or not, using a smaller plate gives your brain the impression that you’re eating your “normal” amount of food.
- Buy food for what it has, not what the package shouts to you from the shelf. Most vegetables are naturally fat-free and high in fibre.
- Low-fat and fat-free doesn’t always mean low in calories. Read nutrition labels.
- Try to plan your meals for the whole week. Last-minute choices are often unhealthy ones. Prepare a shopping list that includes a variety of fresh, frozen and canned vegetables and fruit. When fresh vegetables and fruit are not in season, choose frozen, canned or dried. Most frozen and canned foods are processed within hours of harvest, so their flavour and nutrients are preserved.
- Select frozen and canned vegetables and fruit that are low in salt (which may be listed as sodium), fat and added sugar.Have vegetables and fruit more often than store bought juice. Juice doesn’t give you as much fibre, and it won’t make you feel as full.
- Think colours when planning a meal. Nothing looks less appetizing than chicken breast, cauliflower and boiled potatoes on a white plate. Instead, roast some red-skinned potatoes and add stir-fried red and green bell peppers.
- Challenge yourself to try new vegetables each week and seek out new ways to prepare them! Who knew that rutabagas make delicious and nutritious oven fries!