It’s almost here! Friday, June 17, is National Eat Your Vegetables Day.
How are you doing with your vegetable eating?
The daily minimum of vegetable servings is 5. A serving is roughly 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables or 1 cup of raw vegetables.
If you’re like a lot of people living in Maine, you may not be reaching the minimum of 5 servings and may possibly never or very rarely ever get to optimal 9 servings in a single day! According to the New York Times published September 24, 2010, only 23% of American meals includes a vegetable. There has been no appreciable increase in vegetable eating since then despite numerous attempts to make them more appealing.
What’s the big deal about eating vegetables anyway?
Why do so many health and weight loss experts get all pushy with the vegetables? Can’t a good vitamin supplement do everything that eating vegetables can do for us, maybe even do more good than eating a bunch of vegetables?
The short answer is no vitamin, no supplement, not even veggie juice can do as much for your body as eating a variety of vegetables. Vegetables can do amazing things including:
- protect your eyesight
- help your blood carry precious oxygen throughout your body
- protect your skin from sun damage
- protect your cells from damage that can lead to cancer and heart disease
- strengthen your bones
- support healthy weight
Oddly, or maybe not so oddly, even though vegetables are so good for us and do so many good things for our bodies, lots of people don’t like vegetables. Many people go so far as to say, “I hate vegetables.”
Besides people describing vegetables as gross and disgusting there are other drawbacks to vegetables.
- Tricky to buy. How to judge ripeness and/or freshness?
- Often require preparation – removing peels, seeds, cutting into smaller pieces
- Tricky to cook – overcooking them until they’re mush, undercooking them so they’re tough, fibrous, bitter
- They spoil and mold quickly even in the vegetable drawer in the refrigerator.
Those are all valid points, but they can all be successfully addressed.
The best way to get started is to find some gateway vegetables.
Gateway vegetables are the ones you can tolerate, maybe even like or enjoy. Eat plenty of those every day while branching out to try more vegetables.
If you’re thinking potatoes and corn, there are some things you should know.
- Potatoes are a starchy vegetables and generally served instead of another starchy side dish such as rice or pasta.
- Corn is classified as a grain.
Some better gateway vegetables would be carrots, peas, or even the mild and often maligned iceberg lettuce. Red and yellow peppers are sweet. While many people don’t like the texture of cooked zucchini and summer squash, both are very tasty cut into sticks, eaten raw and dipped into a salad dressing made with olive oil.
There is also sneaky vegetable eating. Sneaking vegetables into some of your favorite dishes is an easy way to eat more vegetables without even noticing it. Meatloaf and lasagna, for example can be made more nutritious with the addition of some vegetables that some of the biggest veggie haters have admitted actually enhance the dish.
So, what do you say? Are you up to the challenge to eat 5 servings of vegetables on Friday, June 17? If you often reach the 5 serving minimum will you try to reach the optimal 9 servings?
Come on! Go for it! Eat your veggies Friday, June 17