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Picnics, Parties, Potlucks...Oh My!

Picnics, Parties, Potlucks...Oh My!

Spring is here, and so are many events that involve indulgent food and beverage choices. How do you decide what to eat? Before filling your plate, look at all the items and decide on the best choices for your healthy eating plan. There may be some challenges. Will you choose cake and cookies or fresh fruit salad and whole wheat crackers?

After many years of research, experts are now encouraging a plant-based eating plan. The idea is to eat mostly whole, unprocessed vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. The more variety, the better. All colors of vegetables and fruits help the body stay healthy and fight disease. Vegetables and fruits are low-calorie, while also containing high amounts of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fiber helps with digestion and feeling full after eating. Because it takes time to eat an apple, for example, we eat more slowly, which helps us savor and enjoy the food. Eating whole plant foods can help you to have more energy and to maintain a healthy weight.

If you’re having trouble finding ways to include more fruits and vegetables in your meals, try to plan your lunch and dinner around a vegetable, and add a fruit for dessert. For dinner you could start with a whole grain, such as brown rice or quinoa, and add broccoli, green beans, or cabbage. For dessert try a dish of strawberries or an apple, kiwi, or mango. The recommended 5 servings a day of vegetables/fruits sounds like a lot, but it can be accomplished. For example, have a small orange at breakfast, tossed spinach salad at lunch, small banana as a snack, and small baked potato (white or sweet) and cauliflower at dinner. For more information on all the food groups and serving sizes, check out www.choosemyplate.gov. Vegetables can be added to sauces, stir-fries, casseroles, soups, and smoothies. And they make great snacks, too! Try packing some hummus or bean dip with carrots, cucumber, or bell peppers in your next lunch. Keep some fresh fruit in a bowl on the counter or right inside the refrigerator door, in plain sight and ready to eat.

Next time you’re invited to a picnic, party, or potluck, plan to take a vegetable or fruit dish. Others will be glad you did!

Need help with planning meals/snacks with more vegetables and fruits? Consider a wellness nutrition coaching appointment with a registered dietitian (RD). For more information, contact Valley Health Wellness Services at 540-536-3050.