Pack Your Plate for Fruits and Veggies Month
“Eat your spinach!”
“Don’t trade your banana at lunch!”
“Yes, you have to clean your plate. And yes, that includes the Brussels sprouts!”
Most of us heard these messages – or something similar – from our parents when we were kids. Your members may not have always considered fruits and veggies to be the most tantalizing foods back then (and they may not to this day), but there is no denying that we need lots of them in our diet1.
September is Fruits and Veggies – More Matters Month, an annual celebration that puts the focus not just on eating more fruits and veggies but also on how they can lower our risk2 of:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain cancers
- High blood pressure
Did you know that…
…a low-fat plant based diet can control and/or reverse3Type 2 diabetes?
…plants are loaded with protein3?
…veggies and fruits are packed4 with calcium, iron, and vitamin D, among other nutrients?
…leafy greens5 help protect our tissues against free-radical damage, help keep our nerves, brain, and spinal cord healthy, and help bone marrow make new red blood cells?
…fruits and veggies6 are considered nutrient-dense and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourages increased consumption of these plant-based foods?
According to the USDA’s Choose My Plate7 program, half of our plates of each meal should be fruits and veggies. That may seem like a lot, especially when your members’ diet doesn’t currently meet that recommendation, but here are some tips to keep in mind on their journey to healthier eating:
- Keep a bowl of fruit on your counter. This keeps it convenient, in your line of sight, and attractive – three qualities that will make it more likely for you to choose a piece of fruit over less healthy options the next time you go to the kitchen.
- Take a few minutes each week to cut up fruits (or buy bagged frozen options) to store them in convenient – and portable – containers for later use. Grab a container when you head out the door each morning.
- Challenge your loved ones to try a new veggie with you each week.
- Add (or increase the amount you normally add) veggies to your standard dishes like pasta, soup, or sandwiches.
- Choose frozen fruit bars (100% fruit – no added sugar) instead of ice cream or yogurt.
- Add greens to your breakfast smoothie.
- Replace carbs with vegetables. Instead of making mashed potatoes, make mashed cauliflower.
- Use lettuce instead of bread for sandwiches and wraps.
- Make overnight oats and add steamed veggies or fruit to the top.
- Swap the noodles you typically use for veggie noodles. With a spiralizer, you can make noodles from vegetables such as zucchini and squash.
- Add carrots, squash, broccoli, kale, or other veggies to your tomato sauce.
- Slice veggies such as avocados, carrots, or zucchini and bake as fries until crispy.
Your members may be interested in locating farmers’ markets near them for fresh fruits and veggies? Ask them to click here8.
Your members may know someone who could use help eating healthy. Ask them to click here9 for tips on how to start the conversation.
September is also National Childhood Obesity Month. Your members can click here10 for information on how fruits and veggies can help support healthy growth in children and click here11 for information on the Salad Bars to Schools project.
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For agent use only – not for use with the general public
1: “Everything You Eat and Drink Matters.” https://www.choosemyplate.gov/variety. United States Department of Agriculture.
2: “September: Fruit & Veggies – More Matters Month.” https://healthfinder.gov/nho/SeptemberToolkit2.aspx. United States Department of Health and Human Services.
3: “What the Health: Facts.” http://www.whatthehealthfilm.com/facts/.
4: “Power Sources.” http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/pplate/power-sources. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
5: “Why Eat Dark, Leafy Greens?” http://doctorklaper.com/answers/answers16/. Dr. Michael Kapler.
6: “More Plants on the Plate.” http://nutritionstudies.org/plants-plate/. T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.
7: “MyPlate.” https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate. United States Department of Agriculture.
8: “Local Food Directories: National Farmers Market Directory.” https://www.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/farmersmarkets. United States Department of Agriculture.
9: “Healthy Eating: Conversation Starters.” https://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/nutrition-and-physical-activity/nutrition/healthy-eating-conversation-starters. United States Department of Health and Human Services.
10: “September is National Childhood Obesity Month.” https://www.cdc.gov/features/childhoodobesity/index.html. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
11: “Salads Bars to Schools.” http://www.saladbars2schools.org/.