Why You Should Make Vegetables the Center of Your Plate
Whether it’s adopting “Meatless Mondays,” going vegetarian or trying to eat a better diet to lose a few pounds, Americans are eating more vegetables and giving them center stage on their meal-time plate.
Research has shown that a diet focused on vegetables and fruits (also known as a “plant based diet”) can not only help to maintain a healthy weight, but it can also provide a line of defense against medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer.
The Harvard School of Public Health’s Healthy Eating Plate shows the importance of making vegetables the center of your plate. The more veggies and the greater the variety – the better.
When you’re trying to improve your eating habits, you need to consider everything you eat and drink throughout the day. Do you crave sweets in the afternoon? Addicted to energy drinks, sugary sodas or fancy coffees with all the fixings? Find yourself stopping for fast-food on a regular basis?
If you’re struggling with common diet pitfalls like these, read on for easy diet improving suggestions you can try today.
3 suggestions for making vegetables a daily habit you’ll look forward to:
1. Focus on variety and overall nutritional value.
Having a few favorite vegetables helps to make meal preparation easier when you’re in a rush, but it’s also good to try new vegetables. Not only will new vegetables provide culinary and nutritional variety, but it’ll also keep you from getting bored. If you’re struggling to enjoy vegetables, read our recent blog post, “How to Make Vegetables Taste Good,” for suggestions.
2. Pay attention to saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.
The next time you’re at the grocery store picking up pre-packaged food like salad dressings, frozen meals, snacks or cereals, take a look at the nutrition label for the amount of saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. Try to eat as many “whole foods” as possible and stay away or limit the amount of highly processed foods that find their way into your shopping cart.
3. Start small, focus on consistent and persistent effort
When you’re sitting down for a meal, see if you can fill at least half of your plate with vegetables and fruits, with your vegetable dish being in the center. Try this for one meal a day a few days a week and gradually add more meals and more days. In no time, you’ll find that you’re eating healthy choices every day!
Ideas for Getting More Vegetables on Your Plate
Here are some simple ways to eat more fruits and veggies and reduce the number of calories and fat you consume at each meal:
Breakfast: Start the day in a plant-strong way
Add spinach, onions, or mushrooms to your morning eggs. Tommy’s SuperGreens are perfect in an omelet or tofu scramble, or on whole grain toast with a poached egg.
Lunch: Keep your energy up with veggies
Reduce or eliminate the amount of cheese or meat you have in your sandwich, wrap or burrito and pack in extra lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions or avocado. If you enjoy soup at lunch, add in extra broccoli, carrots, beans, or red peppers or half a cup of Tommy’s Vegetable Medley. You’ll stay full all afternoon without feeling bloated and tired.
Dinner: Veggies and grains are the new meat and potatoes
Finish your day on a healthy note by making vegetables, fruit, and whole grains the starring attractions of your dinner. Emphasizing vegetables doesn’t mean you have to banish meat and dairy, just limit them to a supporting role.
When you want a snack, try to make smart choices like an apple or banana, fresh berries with yogurt, or chopped veggies with hummus, guacamole or salsa. You’ll get a serving of healthy nutrition which will boost your energy naturally and make it easier to cut back on caffeine and sugary drinks.
Even healthy foods can quickly become unhealthy when fried or drenched in high-fat dressings or sugary syrups. Try to eat as many fruits and vegetables raw or cooked using low-fat techniques such as steaming, roasting or sauteing with just a bit of olive oil.
Frozen vegetables and fruits are also good options, just make sure you choose brands that stay away from added sugars, syrups, cream sauces, or other artificial ingredients. Here at Tommy’s we use only the freshest vegetables and herbs in our low-sodium, non-GMO, frozen vegetable mixtures, so you never have to worry about sabotaging your diet with unwelcome ingredients!
Do you have your own tips and tricks to make vegetables the center of your plate? Did we miss something? Share your favorite vegetable recipes with us, and we’ll publish them right here! (We’ll even give you all the credit!)