Green is not my color…

Studies have shown that diets high in fruit and vegetable intake have a much lower risk of heart disease. I don’t know about you, but I find getting more than enough fruits in daily to be very easy, vegetables, on the other hand… let’s just say green is not my color. I aim for at least 5 servings of veggies every day. As a result, I’ve had to get rather creative in coming up with ways to make sure I’m getting enough. I figured if I was struggling, you might be too so today I’m going to share my suggestions for easy ways to increase your veggie counts:

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  1. Raw vegetables taste yummier with dips. The problem is that dressings, such as ranch tend to be high in fat and other not so good ingredients. As a substitute, you can make your own ranch dip at home using fat free greek yogurt and a dry ranch pack, or dip your veggies in hummus.
  2. Out of sight out of mind really is a thing. Keep raw, pre-cut vegetables in a see through container in your line of sight in the fridge. When they’re just shoved into your produce drawer unwashed and uncut, you are less likely to pull them out and eat them as quick snack.
  3. Serve veggies with every meal and eat them first! I learned when I was growing up that eating vegetables at dinner was not optional (ask my sister about being traumatized by peas as a child). Mom served at least one vegetable every night and you were required to eat a sufficient serving, like it or not. I have kept that practice as an adult (luckily I get to choose the vegetable now, so it’s guaranteed to be one that I like), but I learned as a kid to just eat it and get it over with so I can finish my meal with food that was more enjoyable to me.
  4. Bulk up your foods with spinach. Ok, hear me out on this one: spinach pretty much tastes like nothing, but it packs a huge crunch and nutritional value! I add it to everything. Making a basic salad? Add spinach. Making a sandwich? Scrap the lettuce, top it with spinach. Pasta? Sauté spinach and add it to your sauce. If you make shakes or smoothies for breakfast, blend some spinach in, you probably won’t even notice the difference!
  5. Hide the veggies. Sometimes it’s just easier to trick ourselves and our kids (or in my case: my husband), and hide the vegetables in foods they already like. Mash cauliflower in with your potatoes, top baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese, make your spaghetti sauce from scratch using unsalted, no sugar added tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and other veggies. It really is easier than you think to sneak in an extra serving of vegetables without them even realizing it.

So there are my quick tips to eat more vegetables. Do you have any you want to share? Let me know if you tried any of these and found them helpful!

 

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You’re not fake, why should your food be?

In this world of low-calorie, low-carb diets, artificial sweeteners have kind of taken center stage, but are they really as good for us as people tend to believe? Newer studies have found that they may not be. Artificial sweeteners are most commonly found in diet drinks, but are also used to sweeten other foods, such as: cereal, yogurt, and juice. Science has revealed that people who drink diet soda regularly are at higher risk for obesity than people who don’t drink soda at all, and are also at higher risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Artificial sweeteners have also been known to be a trigger for migraine headaches.

Studies have shown that artificial sweeteners “confuse” the brain. When we eat something sweet our reward center in the brain is activated, releasing dopamine and causing our bodies to want more. When actual sugar is consumed, the body will release the hormone leptin once a sufficient amount of calories have been taken in, signaling that you are full. When we eat/drink artificial sweeteners, the same reward center in the brain is activated, but because the caloric intake never comes, the full signal is never received. This in turn causes cravings for more sweets and carbs.

Artificial sweeteners continue to become more and more potent, the most popular ones on the market today include:

Aspartame (Equal)- 180 times sweeter than sugar

Saccharin (Sweet’N Low)- 300 times sweeter than sugar

Sucralose (Splenda)- 600 times sweeter than sugar

Consuming these highly concentrated sweeteners cause the body to be less receptive to sugar because it doesn’t taste nearly as sweet. This again results in the body craving more and more sugar.

The best choice to make nutritionally is to treat foods and beverages containing artificial sweeteners as treats, just as you do foods that are high in sugar. To add a touch of sweetness to foods on a regular basis, use natural sweeteners such as honey or raw stevia. When baking, overripe bananas and unsweetened applesauce also work as a sugar substitute. When purchasing food, be sure to read labels so you know exactly what you are consuming. As always, your best option for beverage is water. If you aren’t a big fan of plain water, add fruit for more flavor. Have you ever been surprised by which foods contain artificial sweeteners?

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H2O yea..

In today’s society, we are quick to grab a soda, they are everywhere. They are at fast food chains, gas stations, even in your favorite casual dining location. The sad thing is that we all overlook water as a drink option. Now, I know, some of you will tell me that you drink water every day and whenever you go out and that’s wonderful, but this is for the rest of us that can’t help our need to have some of that low quality carbonation.

So here are a few things about water that will hopefully make you think twice about making a wrong choice in the refreshment department:

– Drinking water at the right times can help metabolism.
– A cup of water before every meal helps fill in some of that space in your
stomach and will actually help you eat less.
– Water cushions the joints and fills up the muscles.
– Water helps alleviate headaches.
– 16 oz. of water right before bed will boost metabolism.
– Lack of water can sometimes be misinterpreted as hunger.
– Water is an antioxidant and is the ultimate solvent.
– Water helps transport plasma in our blood. The plasma helps regulate body pH.
– Consuming at least five glasses of water per day has been found to reduce
colon cancer by 45%, bladder cancer by 50%, and breast cancer by 79%.

These are just a small fraction of the amazing benefits of drinking water. The goal for your water intake varies with each person based on weight, exercise, and even geographic location. The go-to formula for me is my body weight divided in half, that is how many ounces of water we should intake per day.

So, make a plan, stay focused and drink your water. It’s a win/win situation.

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