Many of us are not getting enough nutrition, regardless of our weight. Just because you eat several times a day and feel full, does not mean your body has the adequate amount of vitamins and minerals to keep you fully healthy. Unless you’re really getting your fill of the must nutrient-dense foods on a daily basis, it’s likely you’re undernourished in vital nutrients. Sure, you’ll keep breathing, walking, and feeling fine for a while, but on a microscopic level your body won’t be functioning optimally.
Over time, deficiencies in vitamins and minerals will appear as premature aging, skin blemishes, strange and unattractive “things” that happen to parts of your body, diseases, infertility, hair loss, lack of concentration or inability to sleep, emotional imbalance, and many more subtle signs that something is not right. Unfortunately, by the time such symptoms are actually felt or visible, you’ve likely past the point of being able to reverse them by simply taking a supplement. All this time, you’ve been focusing on your weight and restricting your diet, your body has been starving.
The problem – and solution – lie in the QUALITY of what you eat, as well as the quantity. Did you know that the daily recommended amount of veggies and fruit is 9 servings? That’s about 4.5 cups worth. If you were really honest with yourself, how many days a week would you say you actually consume 9 cups worth of veggies and fruit? Yeah, I thought so. Don’t worry you’re not alone. It’s hard, I get it. You’re busy and the less nutritious foods are just so much more accessible. You think to yourself “no time for breakfast, I’ll just have a granola bar” or “these crackers will just hold me over until dinner” or “tomorrow, I’ll eat better” and all you had for the day in terms of real, living, nourishing food is an apple as a snack and some wilted mushrooms in your pasta dinner, if that, and that’s not enough! So that’s why I’m here to tell you to eat more food.
Eat unlimited vegetables. You really don’t need to ever restrict these, so don’t worry about going overboard, just EAT MORE VEGETABLES. Especially a variety of them, in terms of color, texture, size and shape, the more diverse the better for your holistic health. Here are a few quick ways to add more veggies to your everyday life or things to keep in mind:
1. Cucumbers, carrots, and celery travel well and make great snacks.
Use them instead of your usual packaged foods. You might get a funny look from your coworkers when you whip out a peeled carrot during the 3pm slump, but it’s worth it for your health.
2. Aim for something green with every meal.
Easy to remember right? It doesn’t mean you can’t have a meal without that color, but if you start with that intention, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how often this little mantra will serve as a friendly reminder to add a little something green where you wouldn’t have otherwise.
3. It’s okay to eat at 9pm, if it’s something good.
Unless you have some serious digestive condition, which makes eating too close to bed highly inadvisable, if you find yourself realizing you didn’t eat enough veggies at the end of the day, get your tushie in that kitchen and eat some veggies. I like to do a buttered sauté medley of whatever I have in the fridge. The butter adds a bit of fat to help with digesting the fiber, and it adds the umami flavor that make veggies taste good. I made a shitake mushroom, broccoli, kale combo like this the other day and it was awesome. If you go to bed at 11 that should allow enough time to digest.
4. When you’re shopping, aim for 70% of what’s in your cart to be veggies and fruit.
If you’ve got more things in boxes and colorful packages than loose or in clear bags, that’s a problem. Reassess, put some things back, and take another trip to the produce aisle.
5. When hunger strikes, eat a veggie first, or at least food that is “real.”
Things like raw nuts, beans, eggs, or quinoa, in addition to vegetables, are much more nutrient-dense than pasta, sandwiches, or crackers and cheese, so go out of your way to nourish yourself with a real food. If you’re really craving crackers and cheese then have some later, after you’re pretty sure you ate your 9 servings of the good stuff!
If you’re wondering whether taking a daily multi-vitamin will make up for some of the nutrient deficiencies of not eating enough veggies, the answer is… probably not. I take a daily multivitamin, fish oil, and probiotic to give my body a boost of nutrition and fill in any gaps in my diet, but supplements will always be a poor substitute for real food. They don’t contain the complex interplay of nutrients that real food does. You don’t always absorb all of it and supplements sometimes contain additives that aren’t beneficial.
Moral of the story? Eat MORE veggies.