Weight Management: Eating More Fruits and Vegetables
Eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables every day can help you manage your weight. Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat, calories and sodium. An added bonus is that they contain lots of water and fiber to give you a feeling of fullness. That means you can cut back on calories and still create volume in your meals. Helping manage your weight is not the only benefit of eating more fruits and vegetables. They are packed with needed vitamins, minerals and helpful phytochemicals that work together to protect your health.
Include 3-5 servings (1½ to 2½ cups) of vegetables and 2-4 servings (1 to 2 cups) of fruits each day. One serving is:
- 1 medium fruit, such as an apple, banana, or orange
- ½ cup cut-up fruit, such as a fruit salad
- ¼ cup dried fruit, such as raisins, prunes, apricots, or cranberries
- ¾ cup or 6 ounces fruit juice or vegetable juice
- ½ cup raw or cooked vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, or zucchini
- 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables, such as lettuce or spinach
Getting more fruits and vegetables is easy if you include them throughout the day. Here are a few tips
- Start the day with 3/4 cup 100% fruit or vegetable juice.
- Slice bananas, strawberries or peaches on ready-to-eat cereal or add to yogurt.
- Stir grated carrot or zucchini into muffins. Add pumpkin, diced apple, banana or blueberries to pancake batter.
- Add frozen fruit like raspberries, strawberries or blueberries to hot cereal.
- Scramble eggs with a frozen vegetable medley and add salsa.
- Top pancakes or waffles with applesauce and a dash of cinnamon instead of syrup.
- Make a fruit smoothie by blending milk or soy milk, 1 cup frozen or fresh fruit, and plain or vanilla yogurt in a blender.
- Enhance the flavor of a green salad add citrus fruit such as oranges, grapefruit or tangerine slices.
- Fill a pita with black beans, chopped romaine lettuce, green pepper, tomatoes and corn. Top with a mixture of salsa and plain yogurt or light salad dressing.
- Pack a brown bag lunch with a sandwich and plenty of raw vegetables. Good choices include carrots, celery sticks, green and red pepper strips, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, radishes, sugar snap peas, cucumber, zucchini, and jicama. Cutting these veggies the night before will make your morning more relaxed.
- Make a quick veggie spread with ricotta cheese, shredded carrots, chopped celery and green onions. Use as a dip for fresh vegetables or spread on bagels and crackers.
- Take advantage of the salad and soup bars offered at many supermarkets.
- Add extra vegetables and beans to casseroles, pasta, soups, and stews.
- Make a tortilla wrap with refried beans, corn, chopped green pepper, tomato, or salsa.
- Use crisp lettuce leaves in place of tortillas to make Asian style lettuce wraps.
- Steam frozen vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, corn, and green beans for an easy side dish or add to pasta sauce.
- Buy ready-pac bags of spinach, cabbage, or broccoli mixes. Great for an easy stir-fry or speedy salad.
- Order vegetable pizza, vegetable pasta or a vegetable sandwich when eating out. Ask for extra vegetables on your sandwich or sub.
- If eating fast food, have a baked potato, vegetable soup or a side salad instead of French fries.
- Fruit makes a sweet and tasty dessert. Add sliced bananas or strawberries to instant pudding.
- Make a large salad once or twice per week to keep in the refrigerator. Each night, add dressing to the portion you will eat that night.
For a Snack...
- For grab and go snacks, keep dried fruit handy like raisins, apricots, cranberries, cherries, prunes and apples. If possible, look for dried fruit without added sugar.
- Keep ready-to-eat vegetables in the fridge such as carrots, celery sticks, broccoli, cucumber, radishes, sugar snap peas and red or green pepper strips.
- When in a hurry, snack on fresh fruits and vegetables that require little preparation such as baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, grapes, apples and bananas.
- Drink a cold glass of vegetable or V-8 juice.
- Buy portion cups of applesauce, peaches or fruit cocktail. For fruit cups, look for the words "in its own juices" and buy unsweetened applesauce. These snacks don't need to be refrigerated and are great to stash in a desk drawer or backpack.
Do you need help managing weight in relation to your other medical conditions? Would you like a program individualized to your lifestyle? Are you having difficulty knowing how to begin? Is it difficult for you to stay motivated? Then we encourage you to meet with a registered dietitian at any of our locations listed below.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 08/07/2012
Copyright © 04/02/2012 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#405
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