Live Oak —
By Cathy Rogers
Family and Consumer Sciences Agent
UF/IFAS Extension Suwannee County
Most of us don't eat the recommended five servings per day of fruits and veggies and since they are low in fat and calories, full of fiber, and always contain vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants that help us stay healthy and prevent chronic diseases, the more we eat, the better off we are and we are in better shape to lose weight.
Count up all of the fruits and veggies you have eaten in the last 24 hours. If you can't think of any (except French fries-and they don't really count) or only a few, look for ways that you can add them.
According to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide fruits and vegetables are at the heart of good health. Eating plenty helps control blood pressure and cholesterol, protects bones, keeps arteries flexible, and is good for almost every part of the body. Most people know this fact but they have a hard time applying it to their own lives. Many people don't get anywhere near their recommended servings - typically two cups of fruits and two and a half cups of veggies each day -so rather than making that a goal, a small change of adding one more than the daily norm is a better goal. Once that goal is accomplished, add one more and then another until half your plate, bowl or sandwich is filled with them.
Having a plan to make it easier to accomplish goals increases the likelihood that you actually will. Here are a few suggestions that could help:
•Try something new- If you have children, let them choose - most people get tired of the same bananas, apples and grapes so look for fresh pineapple, (in season) mango or kiwi. Try yucca, or boniata (white sweet potatoes).
• Sneak it in- Add extra veggies to dishes such as meatloaf, spaghetti sauce and casseroles by finely shredding carrots or zucchini and mixing them in.
•Accessorize- Add edible garnishes to everything. Encourage family members to eat the orange or apple slices, radishes, lettuce and spinach leaves, grapes, and pineapple or mango chunks that decorate the plate or bowl of food.
•Start out right- Breakfast is a great meal to incorporate fruits and sometimes veggies. Fruit smoothies are fast and easy to make and eat, cereal is better with fresh fruit added and western omelets can be made with all the veggies in the fridge.
•Roast 'em- Chunk up vegetables and arrange them in a single layer in a baking dish. Spray with olive oil and brush on a touch of balsamic vinegar or sprinkle with your favorite herbs. Roast at 350 degrees until tender. Use them as a side dish or add them to salads and sandwiches.
There you have it, five easy ways to make the small healthy change of eating at least one more serving of fruits and veggies every day.
A word of caution: Pay attention to preparation. Keep it low-fat and watch out for creamy sauces and dressings. Add herbs and vinegars for flavor in place of salt or heavier dressings or cooking with pork.
Did you know that your Suwannee County Health Department would like for you to be healthier? UF/IFAS Extension Suwannee County is partnering with the Health Department as well as other local organizations to reduce the incidence of chronic disease locally. The idea is to encourage people to make a few small, easy changes in their daily lives that will lead to better health.
The emphasis is on the words "small" and “easy” because change is hard to do. So when you make the changes small and easy, you increase the chances that you will continue them. Once you make one small, healthy change, the chances that you will be able to make another small one increases. Pretty soon you will find yourself making lots of small changes that make a big difference in your health. But start with one because even one small change, over time, makes a difference.
For more ideas on healthier eating contact Cathy Rogers at (386)362-2771 or firstname.lastname@example.org
UF/IFAS is an Equal Opportunity Institution.