Regardless of what diet you read about or follow, the key to weight loss is usually to eat more fruits and vegetables. Whether it’s the Mediterranean Diet or even Paleo (the Caveman Diet), the goal is to eat more plant-based foods. Even vegetarians sometimes need help eating more vegetables because they might get stuck eating a bunch of pasta, for example. But, how to eat more vegetables especially when you hate them? I will share 10 ways you can eat more vegetables starting today!
Why Are Vegetables Good For You?
Most people know we are supposed to eat more veggies but why? The bottom line is that vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals which are essential for our health. Vegetables also contain fiber which keeps you satisfied longer so you don’t get hungry as quickly, it helps regulate your blood sugar, lowers cholesterol, and helps you have more regular bowel movements. Vegetables are also low in calories so if you are trying to lose weight, eating more veggies will help you avoid eating as many higher-calorie foods.
How Many Vegetables Should You Eat a Day?
According to the USDA, we should eat about 2 1/2 cups of vegetables each day. However, for optimum health, you wouldn’t be as healthy if you are eating 2 1/2 cups of lettuce every day. It’s also important to “eat the rainbow” with different types of vegetables. If you eat 2 1/2 cups of vegetables a day, that’s 17 1/2 cups a week. Here’s how you want to vary your diet across the week when it comes to veggies:
- 3 cups of dark green vegetables
- 2 cups of orange vegetables
- 3 cups of legumes (dry beans)
- 3 cups of starchy vegetables
- 6 1/2 cups of other vegetables (experiment!)
How to Eat More Vegetables: 5 Ways
That sounds like a lot but once it’s a habit, it will be “normal” just like what you’re eating now. So, without further ado, here are 10 ways how to eat more vegetables:
Add Veggies to Existing Dishes
One of the easiest ways to add more vegetables is simply to add them to things you’re already eating.
Eating pasta? Add some broccoli or zucchini, for example!
Eating scrambled eggs? Saute some veggies before adding the eggs just like in my Ultimate Vegetable Scramble.
Making a protein shake? It’s so easy to add Spinach or Kale without changing the texture or the flavor!
Soups are a good way to add veggies, too. This vegetable soup recipe is delicious! But, if you are a meat-eater, no worries I am, too! You can add some diced chicken breast or beef. I make my chicken in the Instant Pot really fast even from frozen!
Find the Right Consistency
If you ask people why they don’t eat more vegetables, sometimes the answer is related to consistency in some way. They’re too mushy or too hard to chew, for example. It’s important to note there are a variety of different ways to cook vegetables. Here are a few ways:
- Sauteed in a pan with olive oil, salt and pepper (and other seasoning)
- Roasted in the oven
So, if you have found that you don’t like vegetables (or get tired of them) because you always prepare them the same way, try something new!
Use Veggie Dip
If you like raw veggies but get bored really quickly, consider using a veggie dip. Yes, it will add more calories but if it helps you eat more veggies, then those calories could be worth it. However, I do recommend you make a lower calorie dip yourself rather than buy “veggie dip” in the store. Here are a few recipes:
For those of us who can’t eat dairy (me included), consider simply using salsa or a little avocado. This avocado dip isn’t as low-calorie but it has fiber and “good fat,” too!
Pro Tip: It’s very easy to accidentally eat too many calories with dips. Pre-portion one serving and remember that not EVERY carrot needs dip on it!
Eat a Side Salad
We can’t get away from a list about eating more vegetables without mentioning a salad. I know not everyone likes them (you might even hate salads!) And, with the wrong salad dressing, you can really pack on the calories without realizing it. If you hate vegetables, a salad is the last thing you want to eat I’m sure!
But, eating a side salad is an easy way to change your diet, eat more vegetables, become healthier, and lose weight by combining it with other strategies.
When my husband was diagnosed with high blood pressure, one of the several things we changed in his diet is to serve dinner with a side salad almost every day. If you combine that with reducing the portion size of your dinner plate, it’s an easy way to get more vegetables AND lose weight!
If you don’t like salad, you might not enjoy raw veggies as much (see above) or you might need to experiment with different salad dressings. I personally make 2 weeks’ worth of Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette in about 5 minutes and love it!
And, although bacon is not “healthy” for us if it helps you eat more salad, sprinkle a little on your salad!
How to Eat More Vegetables By Earning Your Other Food
One way to eat more vegetables is simply to make a deal with yourself that you are only allowed to eat x, y, or z if you eat a salad or veggies first. We all need motivation sometimes and if you do it enough times in a row, it will become a habit where you don’t have to think about it much. There are a lot of ways to lose weight without counting calories and this is one of them.
How can you earn your other food?
Simple, before I eat the chips and salsa I really want, I ask myself “But, have you eaten enough fruit today? What about vegetables?” As I’ve said before, I don’t have cheat meals. I build any non-nutritious food into my weekly routine so I don’t cut 1,000 calories during the week only to pack it back in on the weekend. It’s very hard to lose weight that way and it can be so frustrating!
So, it’s not that I don’t eat chips and salsa sometimes (not every day!) but it shouldn’t be at the expense of your nutrition. So, I might eat a quick 5-minute salad before I put my pre-portioned amount of chips and salsa in a bowl. This is good for two reasons: First, I obviously improved my nutrition for the day, and second, I filled myself up a little. You have to eat a WHOLE lot of chips and salsa to satisfy any hunger. That’s why it’s easy to gain weight that way. Foods that are easy to eat mindlessly will pack in the calories so that’s another reason I pre-portion how much I want to eat. If I still want more, I’ll drink a glass of water to clear the taste out of my mouth. After 5-10 minutes, I’m usually fine not to eat more.
I hope this article has helped you see how to eat more vegetables every day or every week. Baby steps can really make a big difference in your journey to be healthier. Make one small change here or there, then add in another change once that becomes a habit. Pretty soon, your lifestyle is your new “normal!”