In the spirit of the new year and making healthier choices, let’s talk dieting. Womp womp. There are so many diets out there (some certainly fad diets) that help people lose weight and feel healthier. There’s the Atkins diet, Paleo, vegan, raw vegan, the Mediterranean diet, Weight Watchers, the Zone diet, South Beach, diets from Self/Shape/Women’s Health Mag, juice cleanses – you name it. Want to know what all of these diets have in common? What is that secret ingredient that we all have been searching for? It’s it chugging bee pollen first thing in the morning? Is it reducing your caloric intake to 500 calories a day twice a week? (Hah – as if).
It may come as no shock to you, but….
EAT. MORE. VEGETABLES!
That’s really it. Eat more vegetables in places that you normally didn’t eat vegetables. Swap in vegetables for non-vegetables! If you decide to jump on any of those diets above, one of the main tenets is “eat more veggies”. Why vegetables? All vegetables have antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, etc. Some have higher concentrations of each. But it’s not the nutrient breakdown within a leaf of spinach that matters, it’s eating the whole leaf of spinach that matters. Beyond providing low-calorie, high-energy fuel for us, there is something about eating the “whole” vegetable that provides benefits that nutrition scientists haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of. And the variety of your vegetables matter too – you obtain different things from every whole vegetable you eat. Every heard of eat the rainbow?
However, diets are restricting and I personally have had very little luck sticking to just one – and trust me, I’ve tried. So let’s make it easy on ourselves. How about we all decide to stop counting calories and start counting the colors on our plate? For many of us, we are already eating a lot of vegetables. We know that they are good for us – it’s been ingrained by mama dearest! So within the last couple of months, I decided to make vegetables my main focus. Thomas Jefferson, an originally foodie, said that protein should only be there to “flavor” the vegetables. So how have I incorporated more vegetables into my already pretty healthy diet?
1. Eggs for breakfast! Having a savory omelette with a ton of veggies stuffed inside has helped me incorporate vegetables right at the start of the day. I always add in cheese too :). Don’t have time to whip up an omelette before work? Bake a bunch egg “muffins” on Sunday and bring them in a tupperware to the office each day – recipe to come!
2. Salads for lunch. Choosing to have a salad for lunch helps me pack in more greens than if I chose a sandwich.
3. Swapping in vegetables for dinner carbohydrates – i.e. asking for double veggies instead of rice
4. I’m not a huge snacker, but if I want something around 3pm sometimes I’ll choose to have sliced bell peppers and carrots instead of an apple or a snack bar
5. At parties or buffets, filling up half of my plate with vegetables first – then go for the other stuff!
6. Eating the rainbow! Thinking about how I can incorporate more and different varieties of vegetables has helped me simply eat more of them
7. Blogging. I have to say – coming up with new and interesting recipes has forced me to try out lots of new veggies and share them with you all.
So what have I personally noticed by putting an extra emphasis on vegetables over the last couple months? No miracle or anything, although I have found that my sweet tooth is MUCH more tame when I focus on eating vegetables. I used to wake up craving sweet breakfasty things – yogurt/granola, oatmeal topped with fruit – and now I really look forward to stuffing myself with a large, warming vegetable omelette. I used to get the WORST food babies, and now, I look less bloated after meals too. I think I lost weight, although I definitely gained it back in China. I’ve also had a lot of fun learning about and cooking up vegetables!
Anyways, I hope that gives you some inspiration to help you make a few healthier choices throughout the day. Let’s say no to the fad diets, and just say yes to more vegetables. It can be as easy as that! Any thoughts on this not-so-secret key to every diet? Leave a comment!