The single best thing you can do for your diet and for the diets of people you love is to eat and feed them more vegetables. More than you eat now. Way more.
I know. It’s hard. It’s my biggest diet challenge: getting my veggies. Buying them, cleaning them, cooking them. Liking them isn’t the problem. Doing it is the problem.
The best thing we can do to overcome our vegetable-resistance is to learn all about them and to learn to cook them well. Cook them so they are delicious, coveted, yummy, anticipated, warm, filling, good. Made with care, offered with love. Like that.
Problem: Most of us grew up thawing out frozen veggies or opening cans of them. These were the foodstuffs we were forced to choke down before we could have dessert. Still a good dinnertime rule, by the way, except for most of us it would be better to skip the dessert and tweak the rule. We should eat our veggies before we are allowed to eat *anything* else: the fruit, the grain, the potato, the bread, the meat, the snack.
Fruits are good too, of course. But a quarter of you are metabolically resistant, prone to blood sugar swings, so veggies are better than fruit for you. Eat them first.
Never choke them down. Find ways to serve them that please you. That means starting with raw as well as frozen veggies.
Find the great vegetarian and vegan cookbooks or seek out vegetarian and vegan friends to help you find ways to make vegetables the main attraction. Stretch your vocabulary beyond the 5 or 6 types of vegetables you may rely on now to include some you’ve never tried before. You don’t have to become a vegan to own a vegetarian cookbook, but we meat-eaters could really learn some things from these folks who serve up a couple of types of veggies at every meal. Forget the cereal-mix and bring a platter of grilled veggies to the next holiday party. Gauge the reaction. You will be amazed.
Aim for more color. Rich, vibrant color. Oranger squashes, greener greens. You want the phytonutrients and the fiber.
The phytos will protect your cells from free radicals. You will live longer in a better body. The fiber will help to ward off all manner of diseases from diabetes to many forms of cancer.
Veggies eaten before other more calorie-dense foods will help prevent overeating.
Veggies prepared with a good nut oil will stick to your ribs longer.
You’re aiming for 9 half-cup servings per day. At least five, but 9 is better, and 12 would really help you lose weight. More if you’re hungry. Let yourself fill up on these lowest-calorie foods, satisfy your body with their spectacular nutrient content. You will crave less, feel full more.
Start with your leafy greens. The darker the better. Mix up or trade your iceberg for romaine or Boston or bib, add raw spinach and other greens. If you’re a bagged lettuce fan, buy by the color. The darker the green the better. Add a variety of other vegetables, nuts and fresh and dried fruits to your salads. (While watching calories, of course.)
Try a homemade olive oil and vinegar dressing rather than the sugar and trans-fat-filled bottled sort. Like blue cheese dressing? Crumble real blue cheese into your salad – not too much — and top with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss. You might like it better, and it will be better for you.
Try whizzing up a ripe pear or a mango, or peach, or avocado with a little olive or grapeseed oil, half a clove of garlic and salt and pepper to make an interesting and light salad dressing.
Don’t like vinegar? Use lemon juice or orange juice or apple juice or nothing at all with a good nut oil to dress your salad.
Veggies. Whiz them into soups. Roast them. Grill them. Make them into gratins. Shred or chop or flake or dice them. Stir-fry them. Bake them. Bubble them up in a stock and serve them over half the pasta you usually serve. Toss them into your roasting pan for the last 5 minutes. Take a really long time to make a great vegetable soup. Saute them quickly on the stove. Eat them raw.
Well, that’s what we used to do. Back when humans weren’t fat. It might be worth a try. A whole bunch of folks would tell you the raw-er the better. And lately they’ve been convincing some really good chefs to write good cookbooks featuring raw foods. That’ll make it easier for all of us to include these in our diets.
That’s the message for the day. If you eat nothing else, eat your veggies. And you might try eating nothing but once in awhile. Just to see what happens.
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