Nutrition and health experts agree about the importance of fruits and vegetables in our diets. The current Dietary Guidelines stress the positive health outcomes of adding these plant foods into to a healthy eating plan. Generally, fruits and vegetables are grouped together and recommendations are to eat 1 to 2 cups of fruit per day and 2 to 4 cups of vegetables per day. Unfortunately the current consumption of fruit is less than a cup of fruit per person each day. Studies show that this amount is increasing for adults, but trends for children are heading downward. According to My Plate, any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of the fruit group. The fruit can be fresh, frozen, dried or canned.
During this month, take some time to look at your fruit consumption and explore ways to increase or add variety to your eating pattern. Here are some ideas that may work for you, pick a few that inspire you to set measurable goals for yourself:
- Plan ahead when you leave home and take a fruit with you.
- Make your own trail mix out of dried fruits like apples, plums, apricots, and bananas. (Note: calories and sugars in these products add up quickly).
- Look at a different form of fruit that you might like to try such as canned or frozen. Already cleaned, cut, and prepared fresh fruit may also make it easier to include more fruit in your diets.
- Swap a fruit for a sweet dessert or other foods with added sugars.
- Get the grill out! Try grilling fruits such as pineapples, peaches, or kiwi.
- Have the kids pick a letter each day and eat a fruit that starts with that letter…such as A for apple, C for cherries, or F for Fig. If you work your way through the alphabet, you’ll have had 26 fruits during the month. Perhaps you’ll even find some new favorites.
- Have a new color every day. Pick a color and try to find and eat fruits with those colors.
- Add fruits to recipes… such as apples to tuna salads, pineapple in chicken salad, and strawberries in a green salad.
- Instead of dipping chips, dip fruit into a sweet yogurt dip or peanut butter.
- Preparing or cutting a fruit to make it more “user friendly” may make it more likely to get eaten. Like how washing and cutting an orange into “smiles” may make it more appealing and easier to eat than a whole peeled orange in a lunch bag.
- When menu planning, think about how fruits can be added to each meal.
- As we move into spring and summer, search out fresh local fruits and enjoy old favorites and try something different.
Fruits are very versatile and can be added to many meals and snack situations. Important to note, due to the high natural sugar found in fruits, individuals with pre-diabetes and diabetes should watch the portion size and quantity of fruits eaten at one time. Remember, goals should be personal and based on your specific situation.
DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The information is for informational purposes and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any illness. Consult a physician before taking any action.
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