"Eat your fruits and vegetables." We've heard it all of our lives, since our own mother forced us to eat that last piece of broccoli or last chunk of cooked carrot. If only it were so simple.|
Our bodies crave fruits and vegetables more than just about any other foods because we tend to get far fewer of them than we need. We often think we survive just fine on 2-3 servings a day - or less. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the USDA both recommend at least 5 servings per day! When you are pregnant, you need higher levels of folic acid, iron, and other nutrients that can be found in fruits and vegetables. What you're missing could be the difference between surviving and thriving. A well nourished body will be better able to handle the strains of delivery as well as be able to recover faster from it.
With just a little thought and a tiny bit of effort in snack preparation, you can make these nutritious foods more convenient and accessible, whether on the go, or laying on the couch, resting those swollen ankles.
Tips and Tricks
Besides being packed full of nutrients, fruits and vegetables can also be quite filling. They may even ward off your empty calorie snacking! Don't be discouraged by the 5 servings a day recommendation. The guide below shows that one serving is less than what you might think.
- Add fruit to your cereal, oatmeal, waffles or pancakes at breakfast.
- Create your own yogurt flavors with plain yogurt and different combinations of fruit.
- Snack on raw vegetables or fruits instead of chips or pretzels. Keep sugar snap peas, raisins or carrot sticks in your car, your office or your backpack.
- Use chunky salsa instead of thick, creamy snack dips.
- Drink 100% juice instead of addictive coffee, tea, or soda.
- Going out to lunch? Take a trip to the grocery salad bar. Use lots of dark green leaves and other vegetables instead of piling on all of the extras like eggs, bacon, or croutons.
- Add frozen veggies to any pasta dish.
- Keep fruits and vegetables in line of sight. Grapes, oranges, bananas, and apples make a colorful bowl arrangement on the table. If you see them, you will eat them.
- Dried fruit is just as portable as potato chips -- and less messy. Plus, it's an easy way to increase your iron consumption.
- When cooking vegetables, makes 2-3 times more than you need and immediately store the extra away for tomorrow. It will save you time later on when you might not feel up to the task of cooking.
- Dried fruit tastes especially good when added to a basic trail mix.
- Add your own beans and vegetables (tomatoes, spinach, peppers, cabbage) to canned and quick-serve soups. The beans will add protein while the veggies will pack in some extra vitamins.
- If you must have pizza, load on extra veggies and pineapple.
- Try berries, melons or dates for a naturally sweet dessert rather than the usual candy bar, cookie, or ice cream sandwich.
- Frozen fruit and veggies are nearly as healthy as the fresh stuff, and only take minutes to prepare.
- Combine fruit with your main meal courses. Raisins, apples and tangerine slices add sweet, crunchy variety to a salad. Apples complement pork and orange slices are perfect with chicken.
One serving equals:
1 medium piece of fruit
½ cup fruit or vegetables (raw, cooked, canned, or frozen)
1 cup of leafy salad greens
¼ cup of dried fruit
¾ cup or 6 oz. of 100% juice
½ cup cooked peas or beans (from canned or dried)