5 dumbest diet mistakes: #3

The 5 Dumbest Diet Mistakes countdown continues with:

#3: Underestimating the power of vegetables and fruit

I’ve certainly written about this before, and it’s worth repeating.  Diet surveys show people are not eating nearly enough vegetables and fruit.  Strange but true: these days even vegans and vegetarians aren’t eating enough vegetables.  These foods are loaded with nutrients, low in calories, full of fiber and have a high water content.  They fill you up and help control appetite.  What’s not to like about that?

Unfortunately, the barriers to eating more fruit and vegetables are numerous.

  1. Restaurants, especially fast food restaurants, have only limited options for these, usually a green salad (loaded with cheese, croutons and bacon bits!) or apple slices (with sugary dip!).
  2. Creativity and flavor are not high on the vegetable/fruit preparation radar screen.  Most people think of vegetable preparation as boiling or steaming, or just popping a frozen bag of plain veggies in the microwave.  Fruit choices are usually limited to “Delicious” (oxymoron alert) apples (they sure are red, though).  If that’s what most people think of as fresh fruit, I don’t blame them for thinking fruit doesn’t taste good.
  3. Let’s face it, preparing fresh fruit or vegetables is messy.  Ever peel and slice up a fresh peach?  Or clean fresh spinach? The list could go on.  You don’t want to do any of this while wearing nice work clothes.
  4. It’s not necessarily cheap, and frequently looks downright wasteful.  When you end up throwing away half your head of lettuce because the leaves are soggy, or most of the broccoli because you just eat the flowerets, vegetables and fruit start to look expensive.
  5. Fresh produce doesn’t last long.  You have to remember to eat it, and that’s not always convenient, with busy lives that leave little time for eating at home.  A few too many times you end up throwing out a container of expensive fresh raspberries, a whole cucumber or a bunch of bananas is guaranteed to turn you off to buying fresh produce.

There are solutions to most of these problems.  You just have to recognize them.

  • Buy pre-cut and pre-washed fruit and vegetables.  No mess and much more convenience.  It’s now easy to grab some chunks of melon or cut up broccoli for a snack, or throw together a green salad or quick veggie stir fry.
  • Buy frozen unsweetened fruit to use for super easy fruit salads or smoothies.  No mess, and little spoilage.
  • Look for more interesting recipes for vegetable preparation, using herbs and spices, instead of just boiling them.  Incorporate vegetables into other dishes to add flavor, such as vegetable marinara or adding cooked vegetables to something as simple as macaroni and cheese or a burrito.
  • Patronize restaurants that do offer interesting vegetable and fruit options, and order those.  If options aren’t listed on the menu, ask.

The more you practice these steps, the easier it becomes.  And here’s a good reason to get going: a recent study of women who successfully kept weight off found that long term success was clearly linked to increasing vegetable and fruit intake.

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