The Resolution You Overlooked

Lose weight.

Eat better.

Focus on self-care.

These are some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions from 2018.1 Perhaps they made your list last year…and maybe this year as well. Undoubtedly, taking better care of ourselves by losing weight, improving our diet and giving ourselves some much-needed TLC are consistently some of the most popular and anguished-over goals. Eating better to lose weight is a great start, but what does eating better actually look like?

If you are like a majority of Americans, “eating better” most likely begins with eating more vegetables. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 90% of adults do not eat the recommended (2-3 cups/day for adults) amount, with young adults and men being some of the most common offenders.2 Before we start trying to just “eat better”, let’s rewrite that goal to “eat more vegetables, specifically an extra serving or two each day.”

Take a look below to remind yourself why eating vegetables is worth your time, energy, and attention – you might be surprised!

VEGETABLES…

Maintain your health. Ok, back to the basics first…vegetables offer your body fiber, water, and other ESSENTIAL vitamins and minerals your body needs to sustain your health and your life (e.g. the beta-carotene in orange and dark leafy green vegetables aids in immune system functioning). According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most diets in the U.S. are lacking thereby resulting in micronutrient deficiencies and therefore health problems.3 Even in this highly developed country where a variety of food is in abundance, a poor diet will still lead to poor health.

Keep you alive. Eating vegetables regularly can decrease your risk for MULTIPLE chronic diseases like…

  • cardiovascular disease (#1 cause of death in U.S.),
  • some cancers (#2 leading cause of death in the U.S.),
  • Type 2 diabetes (as of 2015, 30.3 million Americans have),
  • obesity (1/3 of the population is overweight or obese), etc.

Many people die from these chronic diseases every day. Those who are alive and dealing with these diseases often experience a decreased quality of life, greater financial strain because of higher healthcare costs, and therefore higher levels of stress.

Worldwide, 5.2 million people died from not eating enough fruits and vegetables in 2013 according to the World Health Organization.4

Aid in weight loss! Did you know that? Vegetables are high in nutrients, but low in calories. They are also high in volume (think of 100 calories of broccoli versus 100 calories of a candy bar…big difference in the amount of food between the two).

Humans are creatures of habit and therefore we like to eat the same volume of food day-by-day, REGARDLESS of the food’s caloric content. This is pretty significant, especially when you understand that our diet is a balance of food and nutrients – eating more of one thing affects how much we eat of another thing. Eating an extra serving or two of vegetables per day can actually help you mindlessly cut back on other calories.

I have worked with multiple individuals who increased their vegetable intake over a period of a few weeks and lost weight (from a few pounds to close to 10 lbs). Eating vegetables is POWERFUL for weight loss and weight maintenance.  

Make you feel good (aka mood booster). This is one of my favorites! Researchers report that eating high amounts of fruits and vegetables is connected with lower rates of anxiety and depression. Eating more fruits and vegetables has also been connected with greater levels of happiness.5-6 Living what we know and taking care of ourselves feels goo-ood!

This year “eat better” by increasing your vegetable intake! The benefits undoubtedly outweigh the costs…and it just might help you reach your other New Year's resolutions too!

 

REFERENCES:

  1. https://www.statista.com/chart/12386/the-most-common-new-years-resolutions-for-2018/
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p1116-fruit-vegetable-consumption.html
  3. US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Agriculture. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans December 2015. Available at: https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/. Pulled from https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/micronutrient-inadequacies/overview#references.
  4. https://www.who.int/elena/titles/fruit_vegetables_ncds/en/
  5. Gomez-Pinilla, F., & Nguyen, T. T. (2012). Natural mood foods: the actions of polyphenols against psychiatric and cognitive disorders. Nutritional neuroscience15(3), 127-33.
  6. Mujcic, R., & J Oswald, A. (2016). Evolution of Well-Being and Happiness After Increases in Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables. American journal of public health106(8), 1504-10.

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