Welcome to week six of the nine-week healthy habits holiday challenge. Are you still with us? Are you practicing your weekly habits? Have you found some habits harder than others? Have you found some were too easy and you forgot to do them at all? What are you learning? Are you developing new habits?
The idea of the challenge is to build on the existing habits with new habits each week. You won’t be perfect. You’ll forget. You’ll miss days. It’s all part of the process so if you’ve fallen off for a day or a week or overlooked some of your habits, no problem! Pick back up where you left off.
Some people do better to work on a habit for two weeks before moving onto the next one. That’s great! These blog posts are here whenever you’re ready for them. You’ll do best when you progress at the rate that works best for you. You decide what works best for you and commit to that timeline.
I promised you when we started this challenge that there would be no extreme habits. I wouldn’t ask you to commit to intense daily exercise or severe food restrictions. Instead, we are focusing on sustainable practices that will be the foundation on which to build your new year goals. We are concentrating on the habits you can add to your life rather than what you have to take away.
WEEK NINE CHALLENGE: EAT MORE VEGETABLES
Grandma has been telling you this for decades, eat your veggies! While there is a lot of disagreement and opposing views in the world of nutrition, one idea that is almost universally accepted is that you should eat 6-8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. (I say “almost” because there’s that carnivore diet circulating where they only eat meat. yikes.)
Today we are focusing on vegetables.
Sarah Petty MS, Integrative Clinical Nutritionist of Sage Advice Wellness in Fort Worth says, "Vegetables provide so much more than vitamins! Fiber in veggies supports gut health (promoting health immune, hormone, and brain function), while the many types of phytochemicals (colors of the rainbow) are required for healthy heart and brain cells. Veggies also increase hydration status, which is especially helpful for runners."
What’s not to love about vegetables? Some people say the taste. And if you’ve ever had plain steamed Brussel sprouts or soggy boiled summer squash, I feel your pain. Vegetables not prepared well will destroy your enthusiasm for vegetables.. We want to eat the foods that are good for our bodies, but we also need to at least moderately enjoy them. If you buy vegetables because you think you’re supposed to eat them, but throw them out in the trash every week, that’s not healthy, that’s just wasteful.
How to flavor vegetables to make them more delicious
Add spices like thyme, oregano, rosemary or basil
Saute in olive oil
Dip raw veggies in ranch dressing or Yogurt dip
Add real butter
Stuff peppers or mushroom caps with ground meat, plain Greek yogurt and cheese
Add crumbled bacon
Add fruit to your veggies in a smoothie or chopped in a salad
Squeeze lemon or lime
Add dijon mustard
If you’re worried that adding butter, cheese or crumbled bacon is calorie dense and not healthy, keep in mind that a little goes a long way. We don’t need a cup of olive oil or a tub of butter. Vegetables topped with cheese that you’ll eat are healthier than vegetables that you won’t touch because you don’t like the taste. It’s about making it work for you.
12 Ways to add more vegetables in your diet
Add a handful of spinach to a fruit smoothie. You won’t even taste it.
Eat a small salad with greens, cucumbers, and tomatoes as a side dish for dinner.
Eat a big salad with plenty of chopped veggies and protein for lunch.
Chop up vegetables one day of the week (peppers, mushrooms, carrots, celery, cucumbers, etc.) If they’re already chopped it’s easier to toss into your meals.
Add colorful peppers, tomatoes and onions when cooking eggs.
Add veggies to a stir fry and top with a low sodium soy sauce.
Add double veggies to a casserole.
Spiralize veggies into noodles.
Make spaghetti squash instead of pasta.
Snack on raw veggies like baby carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, or snap peas.
Sub leafy greens for wraps, taco shells or hamburger buns.
Hide zucchini and carrots in healthy muffins like this one.
If you are currently consuming a lot less than 6-8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, then start smaller. If you are eating one serving a day, try to increase to two or three. Once three servings become a habit, you can work up to four or five. Nutrition is not all-or-nothing. Make an honest effort every day to include more vegetables in your diet and when you can do more, then do more.
Do you accept this week’s challenge to add more vegetables to your diet while you continue to work on the previous habits? Let me know how it goes!
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