How To Increase Vegetable Intake
In Sight, In Mind
We have all heard of the saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’, but the opposite is also as effective. Once you can see something and it is readily available and appealing to you, you are more likely to choose it. When it comes to habit formation, having something in your sight as often as possible is a smart idea. If the fruit and vegetables in your house are readily available and easy to access, then you are more likely to include them in your meals. It may be a good idea to leave some vegetables close to the foods you typically cook for dinner, that way when you go to cook in the evening, the vegetables are convenient to include. Again, this may seem trivial, but don’t knock it until you try it.
Similar to habit stacking or action stacking, food stacking involves pairing a food you should eat (vegetables) with a food you already eat regularly (pasta for example). If you are already in the habit of eating pasta several times each week, try stacking a couple of vegetables with it, so every time you cook pasta, you now must have two vegetables with it. You already know you want to have pasta and now you are simply just adding to your favourite dish! Similarly, with breakfast, if you already have a fry every weekend, why not add some vegetables to it – thereby you are still having your favourite meals but simply adding to them. Over time, stacking vegetables onto the foods you already eat will become second nature (maybe even a habit).
Buy Frozen and Buy in Bulk!
How often does the fruit and vegetables in your kitchen go off and you end up throwing them out? Quite regular isn’t it. When we buy fresh vegetables in bulk, we often overestimate and end up not eating half of them! Then long after they have gone off, we find ourselves searching for them and come up empty handed! Buying frozen produce is a smart way of avoiding this waste, whilst also ensuring you have vegetables readily available whenever you need them. Frozen vegetables mixes are an easy method of getting a variety of vegetables in your meals. Furthermore, the nutrients are preserved when frozen, so they quality of produce you are buying is very similar to buying fresh!
Make a soup once per week!
Making a soup is one of the easiest ways of increasing vegetable intake. All you need to do is make one soup once per week and it will last for several days. You can literally pack as many vegetables as possible into it and it may be a smart idea to use vegetables that you wouldn’t typically eat in your meals, to ensure you are getting as wide a variety of vegetable and colour as possible!
Start Making Smoothies
Smoothies are another good way of increasing fruit and vegetable intake. They are easy to make and really convenient when you are in a rush and don’t have time to cook a meal! Having a few go-to recipes that you know will taste good is always a good start. All you need is a protein source (whey, yogurt, milk, even oats) and some fruit or vegetables and you will have yourself a healthy option. Check out some smoothies recipes here!
Spices, Flavourings, Sauces
Let’s face it, not many people want to eat a portion of boiled broccoli! But why is this so commonly tried? You wouldn’t just boil some pasta and eat it plain on its own, would you? You would likely add some form of flavouring, spices or sauces to it, before pairing it with some other foods to create a nice, tasty meal. Too often, we have portions of vegetables in isolation on the side of our plate – these aren’t tasty and soon we develop a negative association with eating them, as they just don’t taste good! What you could do to change that is to mix different vegetables together, add some flavouring, maybe some rice to bulk up the meal and soon it becomes a much more appealing dish. Even better, if you experimented with making your own sauce (perhaps with a yogurt base) you could well find a healthy alternative to processed versions.