The CDC recommends 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies daily, and they stress the importance of making your choices colorful. There was a point in time where even though I was making healthy choices, getting enough fruits and veggies felt like a struggle to me. As I had this goal in my head, my body led me to making the right food choices and I’ve found myself in a place where I am easily meeting these marks, and often exceeding them.
Getting enough fruits and vegetables is always important, but especially for fertility and a healthy pregnancy. Fresh produce is packed full of nutrients that are crucial at this stage of life, including calcium, iron, magnesium, fiber, B vitamins including folate, vitamins A, and C, and healthy fats. Many of these are found in dark leafy greens so adding them into your diet is a great place to start.
Healthy eating should feel fun and easy – it shouldn’t feel like a struggle. Our mood when we eat actually impacts digestion, so if you’re sitting and grumbling over a salad that you don’t want to eat, that’s really not the best way to go. Let me share some of my favorite ways to incorporate fruits and veggies into my daily eating habits.
- Smoothies – In the past, I have struggled with smoothies in the winter and my body has really craved them in the warmer months. As I have gotten more used to eating fruits and veggies, I tend to want smoothies more frequently, and it’s a great way to start the day off with a few servings.
I’ve found that adding some form of protein (nuts, nut butter or protein powder) helps it feel like a complete meal. Protein needs almost double during pregnancy and lactation so it’s also important to boost your protein intake during these times.
My typical smoothie has 1-2 servings of fruit and a serving of veggies. Standard ingredients are a banana (1 serving of fruit), 2 cups of greens (1 serving of veggies), and some frozen fruit (1/2-1 cup). Halfway there and it’s only breakfast!
Another bonus about starting your day with a smoothie is that it is easier to digest since it has already been partially broken down, so it allows your digestive system to wake up slowly and not feel overworked from the get go.
- Avocado – Avocados are a great source of healthy fat, and can make a wonderful snack on their own (just add some sea salt and pepper or other spices to taste), or you can make it a heftier snack by throwing it in your BlendTec* with a cup of chickpeas, some olive oil, raw garlic, and spices. A great dip, or perfect for eating on it’s own. There’s another serving of fruit and 20% of your protein if you add a cup of chickpeas!
- Collard wraps – This has quickly become my favorite go-to lunch. I take a few rinsed and dried collard leaves, spread almond butter on them, add ½ of a sliced apple, a shredded carrot, and some raisins and roll it up. So yummy! You can add whatever you like to your wraps, and change it up, but this is my favorite combination (it takes me back to my childhood) and it boasts another serving of fruit and another couple of servings of veggies. Sometimes I’ll eat the rest of the apple later too.
- Stir Fry – A great dinner option that you can put together with whatever you happen to have in your kitchen, stir fry is another great way to add some veggies to your day. Start with some extra virgin olive oil in a pan. I often add ginger and garlic to the pan too before adding the veggies. Make sure your veggies are chopped to about the same size, and start with the harder ones, like carrots, as they will take longer to cook. You can add a handful of greens near the end and cook until just wilted. This is a great dish served by itself or with whole grains, like brown rice or quinoa.
- Be patient with yourself – This is one of the keys to success with increasing fruits and veggies, and really with any habit change that you try to incorporate into your life. Get comfortable with the fact that lasting change doesn’t come overnight. Celebrate the shifts that you make as they happen, and know that you are taking some amazing steps to support your health and the health of your family.
Remember that I am always here to support you on your journey to a healthier life. If you have any questions, feel free to post here or to email me at xandra dot oneill at gmail dot come. We can also chat if you want to discuss your personal goals and concerns and how I can help support you.
Peace, Love, and Wellness,
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