How Can I Possibly Eat All Those Fruits and Vegetables?

You want to improve your eating, but you just don’t know if you can eat a crock of broccoli or a head of romaine lettuce every day. Lowering your risk for chronic diseases like high blood pressure and heart disease is important, but the thought of steaming vegetables all day long makes you want a piece of cheesecake.

Not only do you feel guilty about not wanting to eat these foods, you don’t even know which recommendations to follow -- there are so many! You hear amounts anywhere from 5 servings per day to 9-14 serving per day. You hear these foods will treat anything from heart disease to high blood pressure (which you will surely get from reading articles about foods you don’t like to eat). You know all these things, and yet -- you still don’t know how to manage any of this.

Let me try to help you.

First, let me explain where these numbers come from. The “5 a day” is a recommendation from the National Cancer Institute. Research suggests that following these guidelines may help to reduce your risk of certain types of cancer. Whether it is the plant chemicals involved in cancer reduction or the fact that eating more fruits and vegetables means consuming less protein and saturated fat (primarily from animal products), populations of people following these guidelines seem to have lower cancer rates.

The “9-14 servings per day” resulted from the DASH study, the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension. This study showed that consuming between 9 and 14 servings of vegetables and fruits each day helped reduce blood pressure as much as certain medications. If you are currently on medication for high blood pressure, don’t stop. Talk to your health care provider before changing to this type of diet. But it is certainly worth a try, considering the benefits (and lack of side effects).

Before I go further, you should know what is considered a serving size. This way you won’t worry about spending your entire budget at the produce counter. A serving of fruit is about the size of a baseball or 4 ounces of juice; a serving of vegetables is ½ cup of cooked or 1 cup of fresh vegetables.

Now, let’s talk about some ways to sneak these foods into your daily meal plan.

What about using a banana instead of jelly the next time you make a peanut butter sandwich? A medium sized banana counts as two servings of fruit.

Become At Peace with Food: Stop Dieting and Lose Weight

NOTE: Information in this site should not replace any medical advice you have
received from your primary care doctor or other medical professionals.