Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fruits and Veggies: More Matters


"Eat your vegetables!"

What mother hasn't said that to her children at least once? Chances are you grew up hearing it so many times, from so many different sources, that it’s one of those tapes that play, unbidden, in your head. 

Well, why are vegetables healthy?  Why eat more fruit? Is the argument for them so convincing that you follow through on that ingrained message?  Or maybe you are one of those lucky people who can’t get enough fruits & veggies because you love them SO much. After all, fruits and veggies are low calorie, convenient and fun to eat!

My experience with clients is that they need more convincing.  Given the choice between eating something that tantalizes my taste buds or something that is “good for me,” I often have to be convinced too.

That is one of the reasons I do what I do. Teaching and writing about the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables keeps my eyes on the goals that I have for my life. If I eat poorly, everything in my life suffers. This is more important the older I get.  If I eat for nutrition's sake I reap the benefits I so long to have.

The Case for Fresh Fruits and Veggies

vegetable list, fruits
Fruits and vegetables feed the whole person.
I am on a quest to “make a case” for choosing nutrient dense foods. These are foods that actually fuel the body.  They have a positive effect on mind, body and soul. You see, the part your mother may not have told you is that fruits & vegetables feed the whole person. We are a tightly knit package of chemicals and biological reactions. If we do not give our bodies everything they need, it has an impact on everything in our lives.  As we get older, we can feel the effects of our food choices, good or bad, in many ways.  At Fruits & Veggies More Matters, we are told to fill half our plate with fruits and veggies. Many experts tell us that conditions like a lack of energy, depression, some chronic illnesses and even premature death can be caused by a lifetime of poor nutrition choices.  But don’t despair. The body has a truly amazing capacity to heal itself!

My Story

I have dealt with illness since I was a child. I am sure it is one reason I decided to pursue this career.  I consider myself like a person who knows every diet under the sun, yet still struggles with obesity.  Working and training others at holistic health centers I have found one thing to be true consistently:  Give the body what it needs, and it will heal.  This is not to say that we may not need the assistance and guidance of the medical establishment, but I feel that there is more power in healthy vegetables and fruits than we give them credit for. Science is backing this up more and more as time goes by.  Many studies show the health benefits of eating more fruits and veggies.  There are more than I can count, and I study this subject for a living! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises us to add more fruits and vegetables to our diet.

National recognition of the need for more fruits and veggies; how they impact health and the long term benefits of making them a bigger part of a healthy diet have become a priority in our nation’s thinking and conversation. Now we need to make them a priority in our shopping bags and at our tables!

Where Should We Start?

I’m often asked to give people a list of vegetables, or a fruit list that they can take to the store. While I will do this for individual clients, for others that can be a sticky situation. Individuals have different needs and the person might be taking prescribed medications. There are certain prescriptions that can be affected by some fruits and vegetables. Drugs.com is a website where you can check for interactions between prescription medications and some fruits and vegetables. This can provide some information, but you should always check with your doctor before adding anything to your diet that could interact with a prescribed medical treatment.

healthy fruits and vegetables
Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables
I am a strong advocate for eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, and by rainbow I mean eating as many colors of fruits and veggies as you can within each day (or at least within three days). However, I would not suggest a vegetable list or even fruit without knowing an individual’s medical history.  A specific list of fruits and vegetables should be decided between you, your doctor and your nutritionist. 

What I will do is end with a question. How many fruits and vegetables do you eat each day?  Our society is very number conscious. We have to know our phone number, social security number, cholesterol counts, blood pressure, etc.  Knowing your _______ number is important and can be valuable. Knowing the number of fruits and vegetables you eat each day is equally as important.

Have a wonderful fruit and veggie filled day!

Gwendolyn Adams
Contributing Writer

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