Self-Care Challenge (Day 140): Eating 5 (to 9) Fruits and Vegetables

a countertop full of fruits and vegetables

Eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day may sound daunting, especially if you don’t like fruits and vegetables, but for those who do, it’s much easier than you might think.

Serving sizes have grown substantially in size over the years. Restaurants and food manufacturers are vying for our dollars, and one way to sway us is to convince us that we’re getting more for our money.

Not surprisingly, these bigger helpings also mean more calories–and that’s created a weighty problem in this country. Currently, more than 70% of Americans over the age of 20 are overweight (BMI of 27 or higher), and nearly 40% are obese (BMI of 30 or higher).

Fruits and vegetables have been linked to a number of health benefits, in part because they provide a wide array of nutrients, but also because they displace less healthy foods. (The ones that often add pounds to the scale.) Essentially, when we fill up on nutrient-rich foods, we have less room for junk.

So, what does a serving look like?

A serving of fruit is:

  1. 1/2 cup of canned or fresh fruit
  2. 1 small (4 ounce) piece of fresh fruit
  3. 2 Tablespoons of dried fruit

In real life, this looks like:

1/2 medium to large banana
17 grapes
3 dried prunes
2 small tangerines
1 cup of raspberries

A serving of vegetables is:

  • 1/2 cup cooked vegetables or vegetable juice
  • 1 cup raw vegetables

In real life, this looks like:

1/2 cup steamed Brussels sprouts
1 cup raw cucumber slices
1/2 cup grilled zucchini
1 cup raw carrot sticks
1 cup mixed salad greens

Salads are a great way to increase servings of fruits and vegetables. I’ve rarely seen a salad that contained just one cup of lettuce or mixed greens. Most are probably anywhere from two to four servings.

So, if you eat a whole banana at breakfast (which is probably two servings) and a salad for lunch (which is probably about 3 servings), that’s your five right there!

Aiming for five to nine servings each day is an exercise in self-care. It’s taking time to carefully choose your meals and snacks to ensure you’re getting the nourishment your body needs.

How do you get your 5 to 9?

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