We hear a lot about what not to eat. Don't eat too much red meat, don't drink too much, don't eat too many carbs... Yikes, what a downer!
Focusing on what not to eat not only takes the fun out of cooking and eating, it's also counterproductive. When we put the off-limits foods at the front of our minds they're all we can think about and we're therefore more likely to crave them and eventually cave in.
So let's forget about what we're not supposed to eat and focus on what we should eat - vegetables! My clients know that I'm a big fan of vegetables for so many reasons. First of all, fresh vegetables contain essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need in order to function and thrive. They boost your immune system, build your blood cells, strengthen your bones, and have been shown to help prevent chronic diseases. Second, if your goal is to lose or maintain weight, vegetables are essential because they provide the fiber to help you feel full and the nourishment your body really needs so you're not looking for a snack minutes after mealtime.
Here are a few ways to sneak more veggies into your day:
- Eat veggies for breakfast. Sounds strange at first but eating veggies for breakfast kick-starts your day with loads of nutrients to help you feel energized, and lots of fiber to help you feel full all morning. Since most people don't eat vegetables first thing in the morning this is an easy way to add a serving of vegetables into your daily routine. Try adding greens like kale, spinach or swiss chard to your smoothies or scrambled eggs. For a few recipes check out How to Eat Greens for Breakfast.
- Add greens to everything. Some of the most nutritious vegetables are the green leafy vegetables like kale, swiss chard, watercress, arugula, romaine lettuce, and spinach so be sure to always have some on hand and start adding them to as many meals as possible. Spinach and kale do well cooked and can easily be chopped and added to pasta sauces, soups, burritos, casseroles, pizza, you name it. Romaine lettuce, arugula, and watercress taste delicious raw and can be added to tacos, sandwiches, and burgers.
- Prepare in advance and make snacks count. Wash and chop veggies the moment you get home from the grocery store and keep them in airtight containers in your fridge to use as snacks all week long. Carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and cucumbers all hold up well in the fridge and on-the-go. Try them with hummus, baba ghanoush, or even try adding nut butter to carrots or celery for a great-for-you snack.
After spending time focusing on what to eat for awhile, you'll notice there's less and less room for the other foods in your mind and on your plate!