It’s been said that today is the most depressing day of the year; the excitement of the holidays are over, everyone’s back to work & school, and we have months of winter ahead of us. Happy New Year everyone!
Instead of taking this negative approach, I prefer to view today as a fresh start. New Year’s resolutions get a bad rep, but I think they’re a great idea. They provide people with the motivation they need to make healthy changes. The key to success with resolutions is to choose a reasonable goal. For example, instead of saying: I want to lose 30 pounds (which is a great goal, but can seem overwhelming), start with identifying a few unhealthy habits to change that will get you closer to that goal, like: no snacking after 9:00pm, choosing a new, healthy recipe to make each week, and incorporating more fruit and vegetables into your diet.
As you know from my last post, I’ve been reading the book, The Mindful Diet over the holidays, and it talks a lot about the benefits of switching to a plant-based diet. That means eating less red meat & dairy, and more plant-based foods like legumes, beans, fruit & vegetables, nuts & seeds and whole grains. For those that eat meat protein and dairy on a daily basis, the thought of eating mostly plants may seem overwhelming. Instead of saying your becoming a vegetarian or vegan as your New Year’s resolution, start with a smaller more achievable goal; incorporating 9-11 servings of fruits & vegetables into your diet every day or 6-7 servings of vegetables and 3-4 servings of fruit (1 serving = 1/2 cup or 1 piece of fruit). With 3 main meals and 2-3 snacks per day you’ll soon realize that you’re replacing a lot of foods with fruits & vegetables – amazing!
Most of us seem to be getting our 10,000 steps in a day, but we’re falling short in the fruits & veggies department. Here’s what a day of eating would look like with 9 to 11 servings of fruit and vegetables:
Before breakfast or a workout: 1/2 grapefruit = 1 serving fruit
Breakfast: Green Power Smoothie = 3 servings vegetables, 2 servings of fruit
Lunch: Leftover Roast Chicken with Spinach, Red pepper, Cucumber and Avocado salad = 3 servings of vegetables
Mid-Afternoon Snack: 1 Apple with 1 tbsp. Almond Butter = 1 serving of fruit
Dinner: Almond Crusted Salmon with Wild Rice and Roast Broccoli = 2 servings vegetables
Another tip to help you get your daily quota is every time you reach for a snack, or are preparing a meal always incorporate vegetables and fruit. Keep an ongoing count in your head, and if you need to top up your veggies or fruit at the end of the day; instead of snacking on your kid’s leftover dinner or cheese & crackers (a popular go-to snack), munch on some fresh celery sticks, crunchy carrots or sweet snap peas. Or when you’re heading out for the day, always bring an apple or banana along for a snack instead of a granola bar. If you’re bored of regular salads, make something like my Thai Shrimp Salad that incorporates lean protein, whole-wheat noodles and raw vegetables – a fresh spin on a stir-fry and will give you at least 3 servings of vegetables!
In my opinion, the easiest way to get 5 servings right out of the gates is to have a smoothie for breakfast. This recipe for my Green Power Smoothie is a good one because it gives you 3 servings of vegetables before lunch!
Green Power Smoothie
Serves 2, 350 calories per serving
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 tbsp. chia seeds
1 tbsp. hemp seeds
1 tbsp. flaxseed
1 tbsp. coconut oil (burns bad fats)
1 tsp. turmeric (liver detox & inflammation)
1 tsp. ground organic ginger (from jar or fresh)
2 spoons plain kefir or Greek yogurt (fermented food – good for digestion)
3 cups organic baby spinach or fill blender to the top with organic greens
1-2 cups liquid (OJ and water)
½ scoop protein powder (Vega One nutritional shake)
Blend all ingredients together and serve.
If you’re looking to make some healthy changes in 2016, but not sure where to start, take the daily fruit & veggies challenge, and aim for 9 to 11 servings per day. Good Luck and Happy New Year!