Veggies! The first Big Rock of Practical Nutrition
The first Big Rock in my Practical Nutrition approach:
Nutritionally dense, calorically light (generally), veggies are a fundamental building block for any nutritional plan. How do I plan my veggies in? Creatively–as in however I can that works.
Sometimes this means eating a scramble with bell peppers and onions, or a scramble with leftover veggies–like broccoli. Sometimes this means having a “Big-A**Salad,” or BAS, as another fitness professional calls them 🙂 Sometimes this means cut veggies as an afternoon snack or appetizer while dinner is cooking. Sometimes this means grilled, steamed or sauteed veggie sides accompanying lunch and/or dinner. It depends on the week, it depends on what’s in season…it just depends! It’s cool where that flexibility comes in.
How many veggies do I aim to cram in?
As many as possible. Honestly. The current guidelines are as such, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health:
“The latest dietary guidelines call for five to thirteen servings of fruits and vegetables a day (2½ to 6½ cups per day), depending on one’s caloric intake. (1) For a person who needs 2,000 calories a day to maintain weight and health, this translates into nine servings, or 4½ cups per day (2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables).
For most fresh or cooked vegetables and fruits, 1 cup is just what you would put in a household measuring cup. There are two main exceptions to that rule: For lettuce and other raw leafy greens, you need to eat 2 cups to get the equivalent of 1 cup of vegetables. For dried fruit, you only need to eat ½ cup to get the equivalent of 1 cup of fruit.”
So the cool thing is that gauging your intake/portions is easy–base it on the size of your fist. One cup is one fist is one serving, except for leafy greens, where you get two! Yippee!
How do I choose which veggies to eat each day or week?
I try to take advantage of what’s in season (on sale), I try to vary textures/densities to keep it interesting, and I try to eat veggies of varying colors all week. ‘Eat the Rainbow,’ lol.
Things I love about including lots of vegetables in my diet:
- Guilt-free munching. You can nibble for quite a while on cut veggies without amassing much of a caloric intake–as long as you don’t use too much of a ‘dip’ of some kind in the process (but a little bit of fat–hummus, avocado, peanut butter…will help your body absorb the nutrients better and keep you fuller for longer, just monitor portion sizes).
- It keeps me better hydrated–hello, cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes? I can satisfy the need to eat a larger volume of food with large salads or servings of veggies. Again, guilt-free, nutritionally dense, and satisfying.
- Oh yeah, I get all the fiber I need–which means, ahem, staying regular. Which is way more comfortable than the alternative….
The bottom line is I keep count of how many veggies I have throughout the day, and, when needed, play catch-up at night with a salad. I stay flexible in my planning, but remain focused on the goal of consuming 5-7 servings of veggies a day. Once you get the hang of planning the veggies first, it gets much easier!
Stay focused, stay flexible, stay creative.
Get that Veggie Big Rock in first.