5 Easy Ways to Eat More Veggies

Published: November 15th, 2012 |

Getting your fill of fruits and veggies can help you be happier.

The hot, new solution to feeling happier isn’t a drug—it’s fruits and vegetables. Seven servings of fruits and vegetables a day to be exact, according to British researchers who looked at the eating habits of 80,000 people and found that mental well-being was optimal with that amount.

Eating more produce means your body gets more vitamins and minerals, which play a part in feeling good, says study co-author Sarah Stewart-Brown, MD, professor of public health at Warwick Medical School.

Plus, eating more healthy foods often means eating less junk, which may be the root of some of the bad feelings to begin with. “Foods such as chips make us unhappy because they cause weight gain and overeating,” says Eileen Behan, RD, author of For the Love of Food. “People very rarely overeat fruit or vegetables.”

In fact, most Americans don’t get enough fruits and veggies daily. If seven sounds like a lot, keep in mind that one serving is about a 1/2 cup of chopped fruit or vegetables. Try these five ways to include produce in your meals and snacks:

  • Don’t Always Get Fresh. “I love fresh vegetables and fruit, but I keep a supply of no-sugar-added frozen fruit and frozen vegetables on hand at all times,” Behan says. “Frozen and canned can be convenient and economical—they will not go bad.”
  • Savor the Season. Fresh fruit that’s in season tastes better—and is less expensive. Fall is prime time for apples, and winter, for oranges and other citrus fruits. Both apples and oranges keep well, Behan points out, so stock up when you shop.
  • Swap Processed Snacks for Produce. “When snacking, instead of crackers, use slices of apple, radish, or jicama for dips or with cheese,” Behan suggests.
  • Load Up Your Soup. Whether you’re making your own from a recipe or opening a can, it’s easy to get more vegetables with soup. Dump in some frozen mixed veggies or a handful of baby spinach as you heat.
  • Finish with Fruit. The sweetness of fruit can satisfy your after-dinner dessert cravings. Try Behan’s Pear Napoleon recipe if you need convincing.

—Jessica Levine
Image via Thinkstock

Keywords: food, happiness, mind, nutrition