Easy Ways to Add Fruits and Vegetables to Every Meal

March 11, 2013

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Fruits and Vegetables Our mothers have been drilling it into our brains for years: Don’t forget to eat your fruits and vegetables. Well, Mom was onto something. Eating more of the green stuff is an excellent way to lose and maintain a healthy weight. Combine a diet high in fruits and veggies with whole grains and lean protein, and you’re on the way to weight loss success.

Fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, water content, and fiber, and low in fat, which keep you feeling full, longer. No, you don’t have to gnaw on raw spinach to satisfy your daily vegetable requirement. In fact, there are delicious ways to sneak fruits and vegetables in every meal.

Breakfast: What you eat for breakfast sets the tone for the remainder of your day. Whip up an omelet or scrambled eggs, mixed with your favorite vegetable fixings—spinach, mushrooms, red bell peppers. The combination of protein and fiber is a healthy way to kick off the day.

More of a cereal person? Berries are the perfect addition to cold or hot cereal. Cereal alone may not hold you over until lunch, but fruit gives it a fiber-filled punch to keep you satisfied.

Lunch: Nix the carb-loaded, fattening lunch, and let fruits and veggies lighten the load. You don’t have to give up your sandwich, but you can boost its nutrients by cutting the meat and cheese in half and adding more tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, or green, leafy lettuce. You’ll enjoy the flavor of the additional fixings and keep your weight loss plan on track.

Or, a smoothie can hit the spot. Toss your favorite fruits (fresh or frozen) into a blender, and add Greek yogurt for thickness and protein. You’ll be surprised by how full you will feel after one smoothie. Plus, you’ll never get bored with so many different fruit combinations—bananas, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, pineapple, to name a few. It is important to pay attention to the calories in the smoothie. Remember, it’s a meal replacement, not a snack.

Snack: Processed foods like chips, crackers, and pretzels are tempting to reach for when you hit that afternoon slump, but the problem is they don’t really fill you up, are high and calories, and provide little nutritional value. But fruit, on the other hand, is the perfect go-to snack with few calories and plenty of nutrients. A full cup of grapes or blueberries clocks in at 100 calories or less. Portion one or two snacks in pre-packaged Ziploc bags the night before work to avoid overeating.

Dinner: Many dieters put pasta on the no-no list, but I don’t believe any foods are off limits. Pasta, particularly whole-wheat pasta, can be an excellent part of your weight loss plan. Next time your craving calls, toss in your favorite vegetables, such as zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, and carrots, to get your fix. You’ll reduce the amount of pasta you consume because it will share the plate with vegetables.

The general rule of thumb is vegetables should cover the largest portion of your plate. A good indicator is its color—the more colorful your plate, the better.

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