5 cups of fruits and vegetables each week day.
I picked the number 5 after some haphazard research. ChooseMyPlate.gov says I need 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables a day. So I'm calling it 5 and taking whatever mix of fruits and vegetables it turns out to be.
After 2 weeks my key learning is -- this is hard!
Seriously, try it. Spend the next few days tracking the fruits and veggies you eat. Prior to this little challenge I was probably consuming 2 to 3 cups.
After focusing on this for 2 weeks I find that with thought and focus, I'm averaging about 4 cups/servings a day. But that 5th serving... it eludes me.
So here's where I am:
- Have a veggie or salad dish made and on hand. Something that makes 6-8 servings and requires no prep after the first time I make it, so I can easily tack it on to my lunch or eat it as a snack between conference calls. It has to be something I WON'T be eating for dinner, that way I don't get bored or overdo it. Week one it was tomato and cucumber salad. Week two it was broccoli slaw. Week three I'm going for a greek salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, feta and olives.
- Effort is required. You already know this, but you have to make the effort to buy fruit and veggies and prep them in advance. I'm already fighting my urge to eat something salty and decidedly non-fruit and veggie like, so the healthy option has to be super easy to grab. I usually do my big grocery shopping on Sunday so I spend an extra half hour to wash and prep everything. I typically take care of this while I'm waiting for dinner to cook.
- This requires planning. Nothing over the top, but enough to make sure that you've got necessary supplies in your kitchen and enough opportunities to get 5 cups over the course of the day. For me, this means a bit more thought before I go to the store so I can be sure to get enough to last the week. And consciously thinking about what my "daily tally" is a few times a day so I can adjust or make a different decision.
- Cheat. Thank goodness for V8 juice! I'm using that to get me to 5 servings while I retrain my body to enjoy fruits and veggies more.
- Hide veggies where you can in dinner. More on that in my next update post.
- This isn't cheap. Fresh fruits and veggies are expensive. But someone made a great point recently - we spend tons of money to dress our bodies, decorate our homes, own nice things. Why wouldn't you spend money on the things that you're putting INSIDE your body. To me that made perfect sense, so I'm trying to pinch pennies on the dried goods and take advantage of sales. Eat what's in season and use frozen when you can, that also helps cover the gap.
Right now, here's what a good, organized, planned day looks like, where I'm getting 4-5 cups a day -- half a cup of OJ (100% juice counts!) and a banana with my breakfast, some kind of salad or fruit with lunch, a small can of V8 along with whatever else I'm grazing on during the afternoon, and then a veggie and salad with dinner.
It seems really easy written out like that, but not everything is a full cup and this assumes I have everything on hand and ready to go. It also assumes I can resist the urge to eat something salty at 3pm. Not every day is going to run so smoothly. Sometimes the fridge is empty, I'm traveling, or it was a really, terrible, awful, very bad, no good day and dinner is going to be Taco Bell drive thru thankyouverymuch. Those days wind up with me eating closer to 2-3 servings.
Now I'd love your help. Any good veggie or salad recipes I should make? I know I'm going to get bored in the next 2 weeks and I've got to have some other ideas in my back pocket.
And does anyone have a good broccoli slaw recipe?? I'm looking for a vinaigrette style dressing and also maybe a few key details on whether or not you're supposed to cook that stuff :)