Diet is a critical part of good health.
Not “a diet,” in which you try to lose the excess weight you have accumulated by eating Oreos and participating in sports by watching them from your couch.
Diet, the meal-by-meal decision to consume reasonable amounts of nutritious foods grown from the earth and untainted by the manufacturing process.
The USDA recommends that half of your food intake be fruits and vegetables. More than 90% of Americans fail to do so. (https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/September+is+Fruits+%26+Veggies–More+Matters+Month)
I hardly need to tell you the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables. They offer vitamins, minerals and fiber without the bad stuff – excess calories, fat, sodium or cholesterol.
- Green fruits and vegetables contain luteins that prevent cataracts.
- Orange vegetables have beta-carotene to boost the immune system.
- Red fruits and vegetables have lycopene to promote heart health and ward off some cancers.
- The anti-oxidants in blue and purple fruits and vegetables prevents cell damage.
- White fruits and vegetables reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.
What’s more, most fruits and veggies taste great. If you don’t like prunes, eat raisins instead. If you don’t like kale, eat arugula or spinach. There are so many great choices.
Knowing all that, why don’t we eat more of these magic foods?
Part of the answer is that some bad foods, like processed sugar, can be physiologically addictive. Others, like trans fats, make our brains light up with happiness even though they’re bad for us.
Another is that we aren’t taking the moment necessary to work more fruits and vegetables into our daily regimen. For example:
- Throw some mushrooms, onions, spinach, and peppers into spaghetti sauce. It’s an easy and delicious way to add nutrition.
- Take a dried fruit medley with you to the office every day and munch on it throughout the day. It will keep your blood sugar from plummeting and causing sleepiness. It will also reduce your desire to overstuff yourself at lunch and ward off the 3:00pm energy dip.
- Add fresh fruit to yogurt. It adds sweetness, flavor and nutrition.
- Order crunchy vegetables like broccoli, carrots, or snap peas to replace the french fries and potato chips that come with meals when you eat out.
- Make a fruit and vegetable smoothie for breakfast or for a snack. You choose what goes into it. Experiment. You’d be surprised what tastes good in a smoothie.
- Replace soda with vegetable juice, like low-sodium V8. It’s still tasty, but instead of drinking poison, you can drink something nutritious.
- Make sure a serving of green or orange vegetables is part of every dinner you eat.
Because fruits and vegetables are so low in fat, it is difficult to become obese eating a diet rich in these foods. This is good news for a nation that is coping with an epidemic of obesity.
Wherever you live, there are probably multiple farmers markets near you, where you can buy fresh, delicious, fruits and vegetables and then build meals around them for the whole family.
Good diet is an essential part of a healthy life and it starts with these foods from the earth.