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I always thought I ate healthy. I eat my veggies, stay away from high fat and cholesterol foods and limit my intake of meat products so you can imagine how surprised I was at discovering that I was still falling short (on most days) of the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables. What was even more concerning to me was that, while I cooked healthy meals for my family, I wasn’t as stringent about their diets as my own. If I was falling short what was going on with them?! It was time to revamp our diets and work in a few additional servings of fruits and veggies.
For me it simply meant changing a few of my routines. I substituted a glass of 100% juice for one of my morning cups of coffee. My mid-morning energy bar became a piece of fruit and a low fat string cheese. For lunch pretzels or crackers became a tangerine. These were all easy changes to make and I was now hitting my daily requirement, but I needed to figure out a way to engage my kids.
As any mom of teenagers can tell you, getting them motivated about anything that doesn’t involve a computer, iPod or cell phone is next to impossible. I’ve always used dinnertime as our family time when we have family discussions so I decided to use this venue as my opportunity to discuss our produce "problem." We all went through naming what we had eaten that day and, as suspected, both kids were below the recommended amount of fruits and veggies. I figured my best chance at getting them engaged was to start a little competition. I promised I’d make the produce available and make sure they get at least two or more servings at dinner, but it was up to them to add more servings to their diets the rest of the day.
Over the next few weeks we’d check with one another at dinner to see who was on target or who was still lacking. If they hadn’t fulfilled their daily quota they would have a piece of fruit as their dessert instead of a cookie or ice cream. I was pleasantly surprised to see them proactively going for a banana at breakfast or asking me to add a favorite fruit to my grocery list. On most evenings we were all at or close to our recommended amount.
While the challenge strategy worked for me, I think what’s even more important is to TALK about healthy eating with your children. I made it a topic of conversation in our house and continued to follow up with them each night. Our healthy meal planning can help you get started with menu ideas and a description of what counts as a serving. Don’t forget that it ALL counts–fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice! While I’ve eased up on the nightly checks I know it’s still working–recently at a restaurant the waitress asked my son which sides he’d like with his entree. Six months ago it would have been French fries. His response: "I’d like the vegetable of the day, please."
Miracles do happen.
All fruits and vegetables contain nutrients (vitamins, minerals)! Our fruit & vegetable database lists specific vitamins and minerals in over 140 varieties of fruits and vegetables. Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to provide your body with a best combination of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds (phytochemicals, antioxidants, etc.). Learn the Top 10 Reasons to Eat MORE Fruits &Veggies!
As the weather turns cooler I begin thinking about the multitude of activities the fall months bring. I also find that this season re-energizes my healthy living commitment. After three months of scorching temps and high humidity I can finally stand to be active outdoors again and harvest season means loads of fresh and healthy produce available.
Like most communities, my town hosts many events during fall–hay rides and seasonal festivals are just a few. Aside from the fact these events are tons of FUN, I also find it a great way to get my family involved in healthy activities.
Probably the easiest way is through our local farmer’s market and orchard. While they host "pick your own" throughout the summer, the autumn months are by far the most popular. Plus, while having fun picking your own apples or pumpkins, you’re working in extra physical activity.
I found farm markets, which are bursting with fresh produce this time of year, are also a great way to introduce new fruits and veggies into your child’s diet. For example, acorn squash is plentiful this time of year. I would have my children each select an acorn squash they felt looked "best" from the farm market. When it was time to prepare dinner I made a big deal about how we were going to eat "their" squash and involved them in the meal preparation. The idea that they were involved in choosing part of their meal as well as the fact the squash came from a place they associated with having fun, made them much more open to enjoying a new food.
Apples and autumn go hand-in-hand. They are best this time of year when they’re harvested locally and, because of their abundance, a very economical fruit to add to your grocery list. One of my guilty pleasures are caramel apples. I say guilty because they taste so darn good, but in reality a caramel apple is a nutritious treat. One average sized apple, with a light coating of caramel and some chopped nuts (for added protein) runs roughly 150-160 calories. Treat yourself to one and you’re adding another serving of fruit to your diet. Along with caramel apples, I keep fresh apple cider and apple crisp as popular treats in my home this time of year.
This weekend take some time to work in a family outing that includes some outdoor activity and what Mother Nature has to offer this season. Be sure to check out our Community page to find out what’s happening in your local community. Both you and your family will enjoy it while taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle.
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- Fruits and vegetables are full of beneficial compounds (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc.) that help the body function optimally. Although AIDS is an incurable disease, eating a balanced diet (rich in fruits and vegetables) can help lessen the impact and susceptibility to an infection. Individuals diagnosed with AIDS have a suppressed immune system, making them more susceptible to infections (these are known as opportunistic infections). Opportunistic infections and poor nutritional status can contribute to a quicker onset of symptoms associated with the disease. Therefore, consuming a balanced diet is very important for AIDS patients!
- The effects of not eating fruits or vegetables for an entire month would differ on an individual basis. Those vitamins and minerals that are not stored in the body (water soluble: vitamin C and B-complex) would be depleted first. The fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, K), which are stored in the body, would not be depleted as quickly. An individual may develop a deficiency of many of the vitamins and minerals. The effects on the body would vary depending on what nutrient they become deficient in. However, not consuming fruits and vegetables for an entire month would not cause severe deficiencies since it is such a short period of time. Most severe deficiencies are associated with longer periods of time without the vitamin or mineral. All and all, your body would not function as optimally. Many of the body processes require vitamins and minerals (provided by fruits and vegetables) to function properly, and therefore would not run as efficiently as if these vitamins and minerals were present.
- The GNLD CAROTENOID COMPLEX is a supplement of various vitamins and minerals. However, if you are eating balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, you should not need to take a supplement. All of the vitamins and minerals, as well as other beneficial compounds called phytochemicals in fruits and veggies, would be provided through your diet. Visit www.mypyramid.gov to create a meal plan that is personalized to you and remember to fill Half-Your-Plate with a colorful variety of fruits and veggies at every meal and eating occasion (for the best combination of vitamins and minerals)! is a supplement of various vitamins and minerals. However, if you are eating balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, you should not need to take a supplement. All of the vitamins and minerals, as well as other beneficial compounds called phytochemicals in fruits and veggies, would be provided through your diet. Visit to create a meal plan that is personalized to you and remember to fill with a colorful variety of fruits and veggies at every meal and eating occasion (for the best combination of vitamins and minerals)!
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