Friday, December 17, 2010

T2C: 8 Servings of Fruits & Veggies - Can You Do It? (We Didn't)

Olivia recently proposed an exercise in our veggie-full life: eat 8 fruits/vegetables a day (with a heavier focus on the vegetables) for one week. The plan seemed simple enough because, in my mind, I was eating lots of them already. I signed on and got excited. Then reality kicked in.

The challenge was to start within a few days of our discussion and I was not prepared. Sometimes I have to psych myself up to make the walk to Whole Foods and walk back with the weight of my nutritious goods…only to find I have enough for two days’ worth of meals. The excitement of the challenge was, sadly, no match for my lethargy and newfound interest in being more frugal with my dineros. I had been working late nights as it was and never quite felt like going to the store thereafter…and walking home in the cold. Ok, enough moping. Wah.

I started a few days late with about 5 days to eat a fine array of the earth’s bounty. First, I ate what was left in my fridge…some fresh orange juice and corn with amaranth in the morning and a pear for a snack. Throughout the week I bought a banana for my smoothie, looked for any veggies in the cafeteria (green beans/zucchini/onion and rice for lunch), made yum-yum noises to fresh Whole Foods hummus with carrots and cucumber, and enjoyed edamame at a restaurant for dinner (I added some tator tots to the mix…the only other vegan thing there).

I had intentions to juice the heck out of my lettuce, celery, cucumber and apple, but I busted my hand and couldn’t use it for two days…and hence, didn’t use my juicer either. Note: Juicing is a GREAT way to maximize on your veggie intake. You can cover, at the very least, 4-5 servings…easy peasy.

I confessed to Olivia yesterday that I had come nowhere near my quota. Maybe it was my crazier-than-usual workweek. Whatever the reason, I decided to blog about the experience anyway…even if I came up short. I was definitely more conscious this week about eating vegetables and I snagged them at every opportunity. Carpe vegetabilis!

On weeks where the stars magically align and I’m at my healthiest, I cook several times a week and have healthy snacks on hand. This is what my week would have looked like in that case:

Pasta Fagioli and Minestrone Soups
Braised Carrot and Potato Soup
Miso soup with lots of vegetables
(=4-5 veggies in at breakfast! = “I Feel Great” days!!)
Fruit Smoothies (in moderation to avoid too much fruit sugar)
Green Juices (hello, gorgeous!)
Beans and Rice with Salsa
(plus corn, onions, and zucchini)
Marinated Veggies on Salad (to put the sexy back in salad)
Hummus and Veggies (this never gets old)*
*Add kalamata olive tapenade to this and you will have an orgasm (that is, if you like kalamata olive tapenade).

Olivia's Experience:

When Jen and I were brainstorming possible topics for this week’s T2C post, we both seemed pretty jazzed by the idea of chowing down on eight servings of fruits and vegetables each day and documenting the process. After all, we’re health nuts who love our veggies—how hard could it be?

Umm, it’s hard. In fact, we didn’t do it. There were one or two days when I hit all eight (or at least got close), but for the most part I fell short of my goal. So this isn’t a pat-ourselves-on-the-back ego-stroking post, it’s a This a What We Learned post.

On that note:

1.Planning helps, but it isn’t foolproof. I love going out to eat. Food might as well be one of my love languages, so when a friend suggests brunch or my husband wants to take me on a date, you know I’m going to say yes. During this challenge, I took extra care to review menus and make sure they had veggie-ful gluten-free options so I could have my greens and eat them too. The problem? Sometimes you don’t realize until you arrive that the shiitake mushroom rolls have soy sauce (wheat) or the that the restaurant for some frustrating reason adds what to their spinach risotto. I can’t compromise on the gluten, which meant my options suddenly shrank to those containing very few greens. In the future: Make sure to eat more greens during the day if I’m going out to dinner; have a giant salad for dinner if I meet friends for brunch. And make an extra effort to chug a smoothie on restaurant days.

2. Green smoothies are the key. Ok, ok, I knew this already, but it really hit home during this week. On the days that started with green smoothies I almost always hit my goal. It helps when you get five servings by the time you finish breakfast. The thing is, it’s winter. And I don’t really want to start every morning with a giant icy drink. In the future: Find more breakfast choices that are nice and warm while packing a nutritional punch.

3. Check your hunger level. Part of my difficulty was that this past week, I had an uncharacteristically small appetite. I feel like most days I’m eating non-stop, and yet, during this challenge, I rarely even wanted a snack. What gives? For starters, when my snack options were carrot sticks, clementines, and apples—all of which I love, by the way—I was (surprise, surprise) less inclined to chow down. While I didn’t eat as many plant-based snacks as I’d expected, I did get a better sense of how much I would eat for boredom or to satisfy a craving rather than because I was really hungry. In the future: Try to stay tuned in to my true hunger level.

Given our less than stellar report card after this attempt, we’re going to give it another go in January. Want to join us? What are your favorite ways to make sure your day is chock full of fruits and veggies?

No comments: