Statistics show that on average, Americans barely manage to sneak two servings of veggies in their daily diets, when nutritionists recommend at least 5 for a healthy life. Low vegetable consumption accounts for many of the health problems that Americans have to deal with, including obesity, hypertension, high blood sugar and clogged arteries. The simplest solution would be to just eat more raw veggies, but that’s easier said than done. Veggies don’t seem as accessible as fast foods, which invite you to try them out at every street corner food stand and vending machine. So how can you improve your diet starting today? Here are a few simple things that you can start doing right now to add more greens to your meals!
Eat a simple side salad with every consistent meal
Perhaps the most popular side salad in America is coleslaw, but it isn’t the only salad that goes well with any type of meal. A mixture of cherry tomatoes, a couple of butterhead lettuce leaves, cucumber slices and green onions, all dressed in a light vinaigrette, is a low calorie, nutrient bursting addition to your main course. The vitamins and minerals contained therein can help lower fat absorption, ease digestion and add a delicious flavor to a more consistent main course. And when in a hurry, go for a simple bagged salad or prepared veggie mix, which should be available at any supermarket.
When preparing food at home, add more veggies whenever possible
The great thing about vegetables is that they can improve the flavor and nutritional content of any meal, from spaghetti, to smoothies, to sandwiches. You can easily add a celery stick or some spinach to your breakfast smoothie (you will barely feel a difference), put a few pepper slices in your sandwiches, or even add diced mushrooms, onions and peppers to your homemade pasta sauces. Blending or mushing veggies can form the basis of delicious dips, like guacamole, salsa and spiced beetroot. They only take a few minutes to prepare, and can compliment a variety of traditional meals or exotic cuisine specialties. Even fast food meals, like pizzas or tacos, can be vastly improved by adding more veggies and cutting down on hormone and antibiotic injected animal products and unhealthy dressings.
Gradually replace carbonated drinks with natural juices and teas
The first step is to acquire a juicer. Of all kitchen appliances, the juicer is considered by some to be the most important investments as it will allow you to completely revolutionize your daily diet. By juicing fruits and greens together (or just vegetables on their own), you can obtain delicious drinks! Juice 2 beets, 2 carrots, a bit of ginger to obtain a flavored and colorful drink that will infuse you with nutrients. Don’t be afraid to get creative either. You can mix various fruits and greens together to make new drinks. For example, you can combine green leafy vegetables with apples and a banana for a refreshing juice that can compliment your main meals.
Teas (especially green tea) have been extensively studied by scientists, and are known to have a variety of beneficial health effects, including boosting immunity, reducing cancerous growths, supporting brain health and even helping to repair skin damage when applied locally. The benefits of green tea are so vast, that researchers are constantly finding new and unexpected health properties. One of the most recent studies, published in February 2012, found that green tea can help lower cholesterol levels.
Bring food to work
When at work, eat only what you brought from home… this way, you can easily control what you are going to grab for lunch. Prepare your lunch or snacks at home, before going to work, and always bring a couple of fruits and a salad with you. If you eat out, try to order veggie rich, low fat (unhealthy fats that is, don’t shy away from the avocado!) foods, and replace traditional desserts with a light, syrup-free, fruit salad. Steering clear of fast foods can seem difficult at first, but you might be surprised to rediscover how much you can enjoy home-cooked meals. Allocate a few minutes in the morning to preparing your lunch, which doesn’t have to be something complicated. You may find that a quick veggie-full sandwich or a consistent salad and some fruit is often all you need.
I hope that you find some of these simple ideas worth trying. Following some diets to the extreme can be like walking a tightrope trying to “keep things balanced.” I always say, “keep it simple!”
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