Six years ago, the only vegetables I ate were carrot sticks and romaine lettuce. As a matter of fact, I’d sometimes go days without eating any vegetables. After graduating from college and gaining more nutrition education, I knew my habits had to change. It didn’t happen over-night, but now I can easily get in 6+ cups of vegetables a day. When it comes to changing your nutrition habits, read some of the tips below to find what will work for you to get the ball rolling with eating vegetables consistently every day.
1.) Switch out your grains for veggies
a. Wrap your sandwich in lettuce.
I like using this with tuna fish or ground turkey/chicken. I prefer to purchase butter lettuce.
b. Turn your normal lunch into a salad.
The typical American lunch is a sandwich & chips or a burger and fries. It’s easy to manipulate those meals to make them healthy. A salad is an easy way to get in 4+ servings of vegetables in one meal. Think – taco salads, tuna salad, deli meat salads, a bun-less burger with a large side salad. The extra veggies are low in calories, packed with fiber, and will help you stay full until the next meal.
c. Double up your veggies at dinner.
Instead of having potatoes, rice, noodles, or bread, replace it with a small dinner salad loaded with veggies. Also, look to add a side of broccoli, asparagus, kale, spinach, raw veggies or cooked veggies to go with your protein source.
2.) Add vegetables into smoothies.
This is quite possibly the easiest way to sneak in vegetables to a meal. When it comes to constructing your own smoothie, look at the list below to add the suggested ingredients.
Protein source: a high quality protein powder or Greek Yogurt.
Fruit source: 1-2 servings. Sometimes people can over-do it on the fruit. I tend to use 1/2 of a frozen banana (peel before freezing) for my smoothies or 1 cup of frozen berries.
Vegetable source: 1-3 servings of vegetables. Spinach is my favorite because of it’s mild flavor, but kale & pumpkin are great too.
Healthy fat: 1-2 tablespoons. I like using a nut butter, chia seeds, flax seeds, or raw nuts.
Liquid Source & Ice : 6-12 ounces. Unsweetened vanilla or chocolate almond milk is my favorite, but unsweetened coconut milk, water, or cow’s milk can be used. The more ice, the thicker the consistency.
3.) Make recipes where vegetables dominant the meal.
When it comes to changing your habits, sometimes it’s best to plan your meal around your vegetables. The more you practice looking for a vegetable(s) every meal, the easier it will be to get your vegetables in.
Start by incorporating meals where vegetables dominate such as chili, stir-fry, or a salad.
4.) Choose a day in your schedule to prepare raw vegetables for the work week.
Planning is key to success, especially in the beginning of improving your nutrition habits. If we don’t practice this in the beginning, it’s easy to fall into old habits t foods by grabbing convenient foods such as chips, cookies, fast food or going out to dinner.
Choose a day (Sunday is great) to slice up raw vegetables so they become the convenient foods to snack on. Bell peppers, celery, cucumbers, carrots, head of lettuce, bag of lettuce, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes are all easy vegetables to prepare. Wash your lettuce and cherry tomatoes then place them in Ziploc bags or Tupperware in the refrigerator. Also, pre-slice peppers, celery, cucumbers, and carrots so they are easy to grab in the morning before work, can be easily thrown on a salad or can act as snacks.
Commit 1 hour or less to chop your veggies so when the busy week happens, you’re prepared to eat healthy. After consistent practice, you may find yourself not needing to chop everything up in advance. You’ll just making time for it because it’s a habit.
5.) Spice up your veggies and cook them correctly.
a. Raw vegetables can be boring. Instead of always eating vegetables raw, experiment with other ways of cooking your vegetables. Roasting, steaming, pickling, or sauteing them can drastically improve the taste. Also, give them some flavor! Add olive oil, coconut oil, butter, or spices such as rosemary, garlic, sea salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, etc.
6.) Look to add vegetables into your go-to meals.
Spaghetti is still a staple in my weekly meal plan. I’ve tweaked this meal quite a bit over the years, by eliminating some ingredients and replacing it with other ingredients. I’ll now add mushrooms, zucchini and bell pepper into my spaghetti sauce to increase my overall vegetable intake.
7.) Increase your vegetables one meal at a time.
Sometimes it can be overwhelming to change your nutrition habits, so instead, start small with one meal a day. Breakfast can be hard to sneak in vegetables, unless your whip up a smoothie. So, instead, focus on changing your other meals for lunch or dinner. Below is an example of my old meals vs. my new meal plan. With consistent practice, I now enjoying eating vegetables at every meal.
|Six years ago||Cereal, banana, juice||Sandwich & chips||Granola Bars||Spaghetti, other pasta dishes, etc.|
|Current||Protein smoothie or vegetable omelet||Leftovers from dinner, deli wraps or a take-out salad.||Vegetables with hummus or nut butter, fruit & nuts or rice cake.||Grilled meat with vegetables or a variation of meat sauce.|