Nutrition Articles

13 Shortcuts to Meet Your 5-a-Day Quota

Easy Ways to Eat More Fruits and Veggies

By Erin Whitehead, Health and Fitness Writer         
Page 1 of 3
We all know we should be eating our fruits and vegetables. You’ve probably heard the recommendations for meeting a 5-a-day quota, or seen the USDA’s recommendation to fill half of your plate with fruits and veggies during each meal. And you probably already know that eating fruits and vegetables provides a number of important health benefits, like reducing the risk of chronic diseases and heart disease and helping you manage your weight. Eating a diet filled with veggies and fruits might also protect against certain cancers and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
With all of those benefits, you’d think the entire human population would be chowing down on bok choy and snacking on spinach. But not everyone has a built-in love for the produce department. If you struggle to fit in your fruits and vegetables, read on for some tips and tricks to make eating a healthier diet easier than ever!
Tips for Increasing Your Fruit and Vegetable Intake
1. Eat a fruit or vegetable with every meal. If half a plate of fruits and vegetables seems like an overwhelming goal for you right now, start by simply adding one fruit or veggie to each meal. You can eat them as a side—think a cup of green beans with dinner or a banana with breakfast—or simply start adding them to foods you already eat. Fruit is a cinch to add to oatmeal, yogurt and cereal in the morning. Add onions and peppers to meat dishes, or pile a few of your favorite vegetables onto your sandwich. Once you start working them in, you’ll welcome the new additions!
2. Snack smart. Instead of hitting the vending machine for an afternoon pick-me-up, start snacking on fruits and vegetables. Cut veggies and hummus or sliced fruit with yogurt dip will satisfy you more than a candy bar will.
3. Drink up. While you should limit the number of calories you get from beverages, if you have trouble fitting fruits and vegetables into your busy life, work them into a drink that you can take on the go. Try out smoothie recipes until you find a few you love and work them into your rotation as a breakfast or afternoon snack option. You can easily get several fruit and vegetable servings in a yummy beverage. If you simply want juice, look for 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice for it to count as a serving, but limit yourself to no more than one serving of fruit or vegetable juice per day, as the calories are concentrated and juice removes some of the other benefits of produce (such as fiber).
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About The Author

Erin Whitehead Erin Whitehead
is a health and fitness enthusiast who co-founded the popular website and co-wrote The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (available May 2014). Now busier than ever with two kids, she writes about healthy pregnancy and parenting at

Member Comments

  • If I'm cooking, there always will be a minimum of 2 or 3 vegetables per meal. I eat an apple or banana as part of my lunch but tend to eat more veggies - especially in winter. I'm not overly fond of meat although I do eat it but absolutely love fish. I'm not a big dressed salad eater - I eat mine sprinkled with Club House vegetable seasoning and it doesn't need anything else. I don't know if I'll be able to do a garden this year but would love to. - 3/16/2016 6:16:56 PM
  • I try to add loads of veggies to everything. I am vegan and although I do eat too many breads, pastas, and sweets I still eat a lot of plant foods. I start out the morning with a green smoothie with fruit and greens, I make veggie chili with many different types of veggies, stir-fries, baked egg rolls, curries. I'm not much a salad fan but does like sautéed greens with a veggie burger. I cook most things from scratch so I know what I'm getting. My grandson will help himself to fruit or a organic carrot from the refrigerator. - 1/10/2016 12:20:49 AM
  • I was a vegan/vegetarian for about 25 years . . . and was very unhealthy. One of the main reasons I signed up with SparkPeople was to learn how to eat healthfully. What a great resource! - 9/15/2015 1:17:44 PM
  • I was a vegan/vegetarian for about 25 years . . . and was very unhealthy. One of the main reasons I signed up with SparkPeople was to learn how to eat healthfully. What a great resource! - 9/15/2015 1:17:43 PM
  • We always have a big bag (or more) of frozen fruit in the freezer. We eat it for dessert instead of ice cream. Just make sure there' s no added sugar or syrups! - 4/10/2015 4:27:51 PM
  • I have recently started eating veggie/cheese rollups that are always loaded with at least three different veggies each time. So much that I do not miss the deli meat I leave off. - 11/7/2014 9:04:32 PM
    Yes, it would be nice if they'd bring back the fruit and vegetable tracker to make it easy to see how we're doing. - 1/23/2014 11:18:32 AM
  • Great article and love the comments - 1/8/2014 9:04:29 AM
  • Great suggestions! I have printed out this article and am sharing with my friends who don't eat enough fruits and veggies.

    Another valuable article from SP! Thank you - 12/6/2013 9:29:02 AM
  • Great article. - 8/14/2013 4:01:21 PM
  • I guess I was blessed with parents that made sure their kids ate veggies and fruits every day. I can't imagine anyone having an excuse for not eating them, given the variety of fruits and vegetables in the supermarkets nowadays.

    The only time I don't is when I am ill (which is rare). But then, I don't eat much of anything during those time as the body is much more interested in spending its energy healing itself than in digesting a lot of food. - 7/28/2013 10:50:56 PM
  • I love veggies, but not so much fruit. Except for fresh berries. I love those added to fat/sugar free yogurt. What I really love is roasted veggies, even in the hot summer! I roast most anything, such as my faves....yellow & zuchinni squash, red, yellow, orange peppers, lots of onion, w/only a few red potatoes cut up. Some times I'll add cut up pcs of fresh green beans. I always stir the veggies up w/a tiny bit of olive oil and layer them on a cookie sheet that's been sprayed w/olive oil to prevent sticking & then roast in oven. I'm not a big soup fan, so this is how I get my daily veggies. And if I roast alot of veggies, that means easy leftovers in the fridge for the following day! Hubby, who is steak & tators type guy, loves the roasted veggies. And in hot summer, make foil packets of veggies/olive oil and put on the grill! Major yums! My biggest issue is food allergies though. I'm allergic to most fruits, even watermelon! So I have to stay away from those. And some veggies, such as broccoli, carrots and even lettuce and greens make me sick when I eat them. I love boiled cabbage, but only on days when hubby is at work as he hates the smell, lol. Even boiled yellow squash & onions are good to have in the fridge! Just reheat in the microwave. I wish I liked humus, but have never developed a taste for it. Though the recipe below for sprouted humus sounds great! - 2/26/2013 7:57:04 AM
  • I love carrots and hummus as well as broccoli with fresh squeezed lemon. So far, I am not tired of eating either veggie, so getting my day quota is easy! - 2/25/2013 10:44:10 AM
  • I also make lots of veggie soup - based on the cabbage soup diet recipe. Any cruciferous vegetable and tomato mixed together seems to be the secret to that recipe. I buy veggies on sale as much as possible, checking the produce department for clearance items, then freeze them right away until needed. I make a full pot of it, but then as I start to get tired of it that way, I'll add some instant rice or ramen noodles or add more tomatoes and turn what's left into a pot of chili, etc. For some strange reason, the ramen noodles turn this into a magical dish and is a favourite treat of mine. I'm not so worried about the lack of fibre in the noodles as the veggies more than make up for it. :D - 1/28/2013 3:12:27 AM
  • When I do resort to a can of soup, I'll add some frozen veggies while it heats up. I'll cook them first if they're the kind that don't cook as quickly.

    One other thing I do a lot is I'll cook and chill some frozen veggies to add to bean salad. I try to keep bean salad in the fridge at all times as it's handy in a hurry or even to take on the road. Trouble is, it disappears too quickly! :D BTW, if all that fibre is more than your tummy can handle, some peppermint works wonders. Peppermint tea won't have any added sugar and if you're like me, don't care for hot tea, I make a pot of tea, mix it with a batch of lemonade and drink it chilled. I go through gallons of the stuff! :D - 1/28/2013 3:03:42 AM

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