I have been feeling so great lately, and everyone around me can tell. I think it's because of a myriad of things, but since I'm a dietitian, I love to trace things back to food. Food affects us more than we think it does. It obviously affects our health, but also our moods, energy levels, skin, hair, decision making skills, and so many other things. There is a lot of controversy out there about which foods are the best for us. Some say protein, some say beans, some say soy, some say NO to soy, some say only fish, and some say red meat every day. But, the one thing that nutrition experts always agree on is the importance of fruits and vegetables in the daily diet. Study after study shows how important these foods are for vitamins, minerals, and their anti-cancer properties. They are loaded with antioxidants to protect our bodies from harmful substances, as well as fiber, to keep us full and help things "move along" (if you know what I mean). But, these benefits seem so far from the present moment. Sure, vitamins are great, antioxidants are wonderful, and fiber is helpful. But, what about right now? How about how you will actually FEEL on a day to day basis when you increase your fruit and vegetable intake? How about discussing the immediate benefits of replacing other, not so healthy food choices with these colorful beauties?
Well, today, I am here to talk about that! This past week, I have heavily sprinkled these superfoods into my diet. From green smoothies to salads to crunchy veggies for snacks, I've been having an increased amount of fruits and veggies this week, and I've really felt the difference.
Kale and peppers with my eggs
Light and refreshing green smoothie!
Peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and carrots as my morning snack.
Side of cucumbers, tomatoes, and carrots with my sausage and taters lunch!
Afternoon snack of berries...yummy!
Adding at least 7-10 servings of fruits and veggies into my daily meals has really effected the way I feel throughout the day. I feel more energetic and positive. My moods are lifted and I feel just...happier! I also feel more full throughout the day. People think salads and vegetables/fruits won't keep them full because of how low calorie they are. But, they are actually packed with fiber, so they DO keep us full and help us resist giving in to cravings.
I've basically felt on top of the world, which is the reason I've been saying all week that I feel like Wonder Woman (or Superman...if you are a male)! I feel like I could conquer anything, and I really believe my food choices have a lot to do with that feeling. Food can be a mood depressor or a mood lifter. For example, having a ton of refined sugar and carbs can lift us up but then, soon after, send us crashing down. In contrast, fruits and vegetables lift our moods up and stabilize our blood sugars since they contain fiber, keeping us lifted, energetic, full and "regular" (added perk)!
So, you may be asking, how do I add more vegetables and fruits to my diet if it's something I'm not used to?? Great question! Here are some easy ways to add more vegetables and fruits to your diet:
- Add vegetables to your morning omelet such as kale, spinach, peppers, onions, or broccoli.
- Add berries to your oatmeal or cereals in the morning.
- Make green smoothies, or add some kale and spinach to all-fruit smoothies. Fruit smoothies are great too, but smoothies made with ALL fruit can often be very high in sugar. Add some veggies and take out a bit of the fruit to balance out the sugar, while adding more vitamins A and C!
- If you are a big rice eater, cut the amount of rice you eat in half at lunch, and add a HUGE salad to replace the rice. Try to add as many vegetables as possible to your salads! Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower, just go crazy! The sky is the limit. Make it your goal to add a new vegetable every week to your salads.
- Have fruits and vegetables as snacks instead of your usual choices such as crackers or snack bars. They take longer to eat and make you chew, which helps increase the "I'm full" signal to your brain and makes you feel more satisfied instead of inhaling a bar in 3 bites!
- Lastly, try to add a salad with your lunch and diner. Even if they are simple salads, adding some greens with some tomatoes and cucumbers will help increase your vegetable intake and add a nutritional punch to each meal.
Which one of these tips would you like to try? Leave a comment and let me know how your operation "Let's-feel-like-Wonder-Woman" goes!