“Let thy food be thy medicine.
And medicine be thy food”
-Hippocrates (400 B.C)
A classic, but it’s no secret, and your mother said it when you were a kid: eat your veggies.
Guess what? She was right.
In the United States, and other Westernized societies, health has taken a dramatic downturn in terms of the development of chronic disease, particularly since the beginning of the industrialized era. This trend exploded with the introduction of foods and excess sugar as they have been indoctrinated into our culture. There is a lot of money and power behind this industry, so it’s up to the consumer to make empowered decisions when it comes to what they buy and consume.
The good news? Your health is in your hands… literally! We vote with our forks, and our health depends on it!
Increasing the amount of plant matter that we consume, will exponentially improve your overall health, and decrease the risk of chronic disease (and as mounting evidence supports... can even lead to the reversal of chronic disease!). Without question, the healthiest societies on the planet consume a wide spectrum of plants, seeds, fruits, wild caught fish, pasture raised animal products, and healthy fats. The things we were designed to consume and thrive on. The power of REAL, WHOLE foods is incalculable. Our bodies are designed to thrive with such foods, as they provide us with essential nutrients. These are the building blocks for your body to heal and maintain healthy tissues and cells; supporting every system and function of the body. Eating healthy, nutrient dense foods will help you feel better, improve focus and mood, increase energy, and help you progress towards goals you deserve to reach.
Eating veggies doesn’t have to be a chore… It shouldn’t feel like something you HAVE to do. Even a slight mindset change can have a dramatic impact on your overall perspective... which will change your overall health choices! Instead of thinking of veggies as something you should eat, or have to eat (well, yes, those are true statements...), think of it as a staple of your diet. Something you get to spice up your dishes with.
By taking the right steps, they can make any dish great!
Eating more veggies:
It's truly and ART.
That EVERYONE can practice and benefit from!
It all starts at the grocery store! Or farmers market, CSA, food share, etc…
First stop? Produce section.
This is the area of the grocery store where you can let loose. Load up on the things you love. Try some new things. Just knowing that what you're getting is nourishing your body and providing you with the nutrients you need to function at your best.
Think; RAINBOW. You want to see lots of colors in the bottom of your cart. Every color represents different nutrients.
Lots n’ Lots of veggies, some fruits, some nuts & seeds, few starches.
Go Organic As Possible
Spending a few more $$ on organic produce is worth it. And go as locally as possible!
Your food will be fresher, taste better, and be loaded with more nutrients (many beneficial nutrients become depleted after harvest, and continue to decline the longer they sit in transit and on store shelves).
At the very least - follow the 'Dirty Dozen' guidelines from the Environmental Working Group. They have done all the research to give you the top produce to buy organically due to high pesticide and toxicity levels.
SPICE it UP
Eating just plain veggies at every meal can deter even the most determined.
Experimenting with different ways to season your veggies is what will keep things new, and convince you that eating veggies is actually something you look forward to!
Using a wide variety of herbs & spices is not only a great way to keep dishes new and tasting fresh, but provide tremendous health benefits as well. Thousands of studies have shown these wide-spread benefits, and they have also been used since ancient times.
It's worth the extra dollar to get high quality products as they will be more potent, and pack in more beneficial nutrients and healthy compounds.
SAUCE it UP
Trying new sauces and dressings is a great way to turn any veggie dish into something completely different. Using the same veggies, you can make a curry dish, Italian, or Asian inspired dish; just by using different sauces.
This can get trickier when shopping though, as there are countless products out there trying to win your purchase, but many use poor ingredients that will sabotage your health goals. Many add sugars, toxic oils (canola, vegetable, safflower, etc), as well as other preservatives and artificial flavorings. Look for the brands that use good quality oils, and don’t use other unnecessary, toxic ingredients.
Alternating (and most likely, experimenting), with different food prep techniques can produce different dishes too! Baking, sautéing, grilling, raw, etc are all worth using on a weekly basis. Cooking foods in different ways can actually help release different nutrients and other various compounds that can be beneficial to your health.
More on cooking techniques in other articles!
Cook everything TOGETHER: It’s easy to bake/grill/sauté both your veggies and proteins at the same time. And make EXTRA! As I've mentioned with food prepping, making it easier on yourself by making extra for the next day or two is essential to make sustainable nutritional changes.
Now... Take ACTION
Start with making a personal Rule:
Incorporate veggies into every meal
o Sautee veggies with your eggs.
o Spinach with your smoothie
o Big salad
o Leftovers from the night before
o Cut up celery, carrots, zucchini, cucumber, peppers, beets,
§ Find a tasty dip: Guac, hummus (free of canola or other toxic oils)
o Green smoothie!
o Handful of sprouted nuts/seeds
o Cooked veggies (make extra for the next day!)
§ Experiment with spices. Add healthy fats and proteins.
o Come up with some easy go-to's. It'll make dinner time much smoother and less of a hassle!
ex. Lettuce wraps, Mexican/Indian/Asian-inspired nights, roasted veggies, soup, chili, etc.
Easy ways to get in more nutrient dense foods that are not just going to support your body in health, but leave you feeling nourished and filled up! Not only good practices for you, but for your family as well. Get them on board (they may not even notice it)!
Most of us know eating our veggies is good for us... I've never had to convince anyone of that. But, putting it into action is the toughest part for most, as we're use to going back to old habits (SNACKSSSSS) and it really is tough to break those, we've all been there. By taking small, incremental steps, you can continuously add more nourishing, healthy foods into your daily diet. Starting at the grocery store, then making small rules for yourself that you have to add them (even if it's a small amount to start!) into every meal. Then find ways to make it enjoyable. It's going to take some experimentation, but you'll find things you love, and you'll continue to find other things as well!
It's a process, and a never ending journey. But you'll be happy you decided to embark on this journey to better you health, increase your energy, improve your gut and mental health... quite literally every aspect of your life will be impacted by treating your body better :)