You don't have to go from two servings of fruits and veggies a day to five or more overnight.
Q: I want to eat a more plant-based diet but how can anyone eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day? I still want animal protein too. — Steph F., Lexington, Kentucky
A: We have two words for you...
You don't have to go from two servings of fruits and veggies a day — what the average American gets — to five or more overnight. Also, don't fret about what a serving is; eat a heaping handful's worth to start.
Your initial goal: To slowly work up to two servings of fruit and three of non-starchy vegetables a day. A study in Circulation found that compared to people eating only two servings a day of produce, folks eating five servings daily reduced their risk of death during the 30-year study by 13%.
If you make your lean protein (salmon or skinless chicken) a side of 3-6 ounces instead of the centerpiece, you'll naturally eat more veggies and fruit to fill up!
Start with what you like. Write out a list of five of your favorite vegetables and five of your favorite fruits. For today, choose one fruit and one veggie from the list that you don't have in the house and go buy 'em.
Eat the fruit (that's the easiest).
Look up a recipe for that one veggie favorite and add it to your dinner menu. Bravo! If you're typical, adding that to the two servings you normally eat in a day will get you up to four servings. (Nothing fried or breaded, please!)
Tomorrow, have fruit with your breakfast. Add another veggie on your list to lunch and to dinner.
The next day for dinner, stir-fry a lean protein plus three veggies from your list. Have fruit for dessert.
In a week or two, aim to be eating five or more items from your list of favorite fruits and vegetables each day. Then, branch out. Try new fruits and vegetables. The more colorful a variety you eat the more they protect you from cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia and obesity.
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