Welcome to the latest edition of 52 healthy habits, when each week I tackle a new healthy habit. Healthy habits are the building blocks of a healthy lifestyle. In this series we look for ways to take small steps forward towards a healthier body and mind. It's not about overhauling our whole lives, it's about tackling one small lifestyle change at a time.
No matter where you are in your fitness journey, from beginner to elite athlete, there is always room for incremental improvements. It's the small things that snowball into big changes. Consistently improving your lifestyle will yield lasting results.
As much controversy that exists around diet and nutrition, one thing that is almost universally agreed upon is that most of us need to eat more vegetables. If you shudder at the thought of choking down soggy steamed squash, I have some better ideas. Vegetables are healthy, convenient and delicious!
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Vegetables are high in nutrients and fiber and generally low in calories. They help you feel fuller, longer with less calories. They help fill you up and keep your digestive system healthy. For best results try a variety of multi-colored veggies. Look to add a variety of green, red, orange, purple and yellow vegetables to your diet. It's nearly impossible to overeat vegetables, so next time you're looking for a side dish, a meal or a snack, a vegetable is always a great choice.
10 EASY WAYS EAT MORE VEGETABLES
Add veggies to your eggs
Cut up some peppers, onions, mushrooms and spinach to scramble into your morning eggs. I often prep the vegetables by cutting them up on Sunday for the week, then in the morning, I can just grab a handful and toss into the pan with my eggs.
Add spinach to your protein shake
An easy, sneaky way to get in a serving of greens is to add a handful of spinach or other leafy greens to your protein shake. When you mix it up with fruit and protein powder you won't even taste it. Think about what other veggies can you add for an anti-oxidant boost. Carrots, celery, cucumbers and beets are all good choices.
Eat a small spinach salad with every meal
Instead of a side of processed carbs, order or make a salad as a side to your main dish or eat a salad with a lean protein as your meal. You can choose the convenience of pre-washed salad or choose raw spinach that needs washed and cut for a much lower cost.
Snack on raw veggies
Raw veggies make a great snack. You can chop and wash them yourself to save money or buy them already cut and prepped for convenience. Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers and celery are all great choices.
Buy frozen veggies
Frozen vegetables have nearly the same nutrient profile as fresh vegetables. Even if we lose a little in the process, frozen vegetables are still better than not consuming vegetables at all, or say, ordering a pizza. In other words, we do the best we can with what we have. When in a pinch, steamed frozen veggies can be a great option for a quick healthy serving of vegetables.
Add double veggies to a casserole
Casserole dishes are an easy way to sneak in some extra veggies. Just chop and add, or use frozen, you really can't go wrong. Shredded vegetables, like zucchini or summer squash, can be added to your favorite casserole dish without affecting taste or texture.
Dip and spice up
Vegetables don't have to be boring. Uses spices to flavor cooked vegetables. Melt cheese over your broccoli, dip those raw vegetables into a guacamole mixture or make your own Greek yogurt-based dip.
Make veggie noodles or spaghetti squash
I love spaghetti squash. It is easy to prepare and when you top with pasta sauce and parmesan cheese you may not even realize you're eating a vegetable.
I also love those veggie spiralizers that turn your zucchini, carrots or summer squash into pasta-like noodles.
Join a vegetable co-op
Join a local vegetable co-op to try a variety of fruits and vegetables. You support local farmers while getting an opportunity to try different types of vegetables you normally wouldn't buy. Variety is a huge factor to ensure we are getting all of our vitamin and mineral needs.
Supplement with powdered greens
Once you added all the whole foods you can in your meals, it may be time to supplement if you still are not meeting your requirements. Whole foods are always better, but a powdered greens supplement can help fill in the nutritional gaps.
Just try one or two of these suggestions this week to add more vegetables in your diet. I always like to look at a diet as what we can add, rather than what we will take away. If we add vegetables first, we may be less likely to fill up on less-healthy alternatives.
Are you with me?
Need to catch up on the 52 healthy habits series?
52 HEALTHY HABITS SERIES
week 1: Early to Rise
week 2: Track calories
week 3: Macro cycling
week 4: Morning pages (journaling)
week 5: Stop the scrolling (reading instead of social media)
week 6: Be a good student (take time for learning)
week 7: Strength Training 15 minutes per day
week 8: Eat more protein
week 9: Take a coffee break (break from caffeine)
week 10: Mindful eating
week 11: Create and follow a sleep ritual
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I am a NASM personal trainer and RRCA adult distance running coach that specializes in strength training for runners. I offer in-person training in the Shredshed, online training and Fit to Run bootcamps. If you are interested in a more in-depth running or strength training plan, please contact me. Have questions? I'd love to help.
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While I am a certified personal trainer, I am not your personal trainer. Since I don't know your exercise abilities, injury background or medical history, please see your doctor before beginning any new exercise program. This is an opinion blog. No information in this blog is intended to be taken as medical advice or prescription. Please see your doctor and/or registered dietitian for any health concerns.