Three-quarters of Americans aren’t eating enough of these.
New Year’s means new goals, but those resolutions are easier said than done. Despite your renewed determination each Jan, it’s simply easier to postpone Pilates class and watch an extra episode of The Voice instead.
But experts have come up with a few key ways to have a resolution that sticks. It’s tempting to make a list of ambitious goals, but research shows you’re betting off picking one or two small, specific goals to focus on.
So here’s a super specific resolution you could focus on this year: Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Around 80 percent of Americans don’t eat their daily recommended amount of veggies (and most exceed the recommendations for grains), so odds are you probably need more fruits and veggies in your life.
And amping up your produce intake could work wonders on your health. In addition to being lower in calories than other parts of your diet (looking at you, chips and queso), fruits and vegetables have vital nutrients that can protect against chronic diseases. One 2014 study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that increasing fruit and veggie intake to seven servings a day decreased all-cause mortality and reduced risk of cancer for adults 35 years and older.
Making It a Habit
Ready to commit to the 5-a-day resolution? Here are five tips to make the habit stick.
Track with an app. Yep, there’s an app for that. One example is the 5 A Day Tracker, which allows you to log each serving of fruit and vegetable you have throughout the day. It also lets you set personal goals (if you want to bump your goal up to seven or eight servings) and shows you how many days in a row you’ve reached the goal. No smartphone? You can easily tally on a notepad or set alarms on your phone to remind you to keep getting those greens (and reds and yellows and purples).
Get in a serving at snack time. It’s easy to grab pretzels or snack bars, but 3 p.m. is a great time for fruit and veggies. The apple is the original 100-calorie snack pack, after all. For the best of both worlds, try these DIY apple chips that will satisfy your sweet tooth.
Eat veggies for breakfast. Fruit on sweetened yogurt with sugary granola? All those sweets add up fast, and nobody needs that much sugar at 7 a.m. Try to sneak vegetables into your eggs or have a savory porridge instead of sweet. Make these baked eggs with kale and tomato for your next brunch instead of pancakes.
Get smoothie savvy. If you struggle to get in your five servings throughout the day, smoothies are an easy way to cram in multiple servings at once. (Psst… Here’s how to keep your smoothie from being a sugar bomb.)
Add simple veggies to your go-to meals. You don’t have to overhaul your life just to get more vegetables. Take the dishes you already love and make them more veg-friendly. Sauteed mushrooms are an easy addition to most pastas, and chopped-up cauliflower can blend into many types of casseroles without changing the flavor.
Looking for more healthy habits? Here are six daily habits of people who’ve kept the weight off.
Dietary guidelines 2015-2020. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2015. (Accessed on December 15, 2017 at https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-2/current-eating-patterns-in-the-united-states/.)
Discover the health benefits of produce. Chicago, IL: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2016. (Accessed on December 15, 2017 at http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/dietary-guidelines-and-myplate/discover-the-health-benefits-of-produce.)
Get fruits and veggies to the plate. Chicago, IL: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2017. (Accessed on December 15, 2017 at http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/planning-and-prep/snack-and-meal-ideas/get-fruits-and-veggies-to-the-plate.)
New year, new you. Arlington, VA: American Diabetes Association, 2008. (Accessed on December 15, 2017 at http://www.diabetesforecast.org/2008/jan/new-year-new-you.html.)
Oyebode O, Gordon-Dseagu V, Walker A, Mindell JS. Fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause, cancer and CVD mortality: analysis of Health Survey for England data. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2014 Sep;68(9):856-62.
Veggies for breakfast? Yes! Chicago, IL: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2017. (Accessed on December 15, 2017 at http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/planning-and-prep/snack-and-meal-ideas/veggies-for-breakfast-yes.)