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The No-Excuses Appeal of Fruits and Veggies

Check Your Reasons at the Door


5/9/2011 8:17:33 PM

A lot of people will complain about the notion of eating vegetables with something on them because they think real butter and real cheese are toxic waste that has no business in one's stomach, much less on one's vegetables. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You need to eat fat with your vegetables so that you can benefit from the minerals and the fat-soluble vitamins they contain. Animal fat is going to be the best kind to eat with them because then you don't have to worry about omega-3/omega-6 imbalance.

You are also better off eating many vegetables cooked, and not just lightly steamed either; some contain oxalic acid and some contain goitrogens (chemicals that mess up your thyroid) that are in the plant naturally, because the only way plants can defend themselves is chemically most of the time. Cooking inactivates a lot of the antinutrients you find in plants, and you're much more likely to find antinutrients in leaves and stalks, since those are what herbivores typically eat. (You also find them in seeds, by the way, which is why basing your diet on seeds--i.e., grains--is a terrible idea.)

But what about water-soluble vitamins, which are destroyed by cooking in water? I would say that as a general rule of thumb you are better off eating vegetables for the minerals and the fat-soluble vitamins and carotenoids they contain, but eating fruits for the water-soluble vitamins. There's not too much in the way of most vitamins that you can't also get in meat, and in a much better form for your body. However, vitamin C is still of some concern. So get that from fruit. You shouldn't be eating scads and scads of fruit anyway; if you don't watch it, you could wind up using the stuff as a sort of candy substitute, and if you're like most Americans you don't get enough choline in your diet, are suffering from fatty liver and the last thing you need to be eating is more fructose if that's your issue. (And you won't always catch it with liver enzyme tests. So eat more eggs and fewer apples, and get more vegetables for your plant food every day.)

Best fruits to eat: berries and low-sugar melons. Tomatoes and squashes are also good, though they are culinary veggies. Worst fruits: tropical fruits, and the more sugary, the worse they are.
5/9/2011 1:24:54 PM

One thing to remember about "fresh" vegetables. You don't know how long it's been since they were picked, and veggies lose nutrients quickly. It can take a week or more to get those "fresh" veggies to your grocery store, and who knows how long they've been sitting in the warehouse before being put on display. Often, the frozen veggies have more nutrients because they are frozen shortly after being picked.

Canned vegetables are overcooked & have a lot of sodium, so I don't use them at all. I did grow up on them, and didn't know until I was an adult that green beans were crisp and actually a bright green, instead of grayish, like the canned beans..

If you don't like veggies but want to incorporate them into your diet, try putting them in baked goods. Zucchini, carrots, squash can be shredded & added to muffins/cake, cookies. You can also shred veggies to put into meatloaf, etc. Tomato sauce is a veggie, eat it often. Drink tomato juice or V-8, but watch the sodium.

Also, don't think you have to eat a salad made of lettuce. I used to buy lettuce & watch it rot in the fridge because I was the only one in the house eating it, except on a sandwich. I make salads of chopped veggies instead.
5/9/2011 12:44:17 PM

DDBJROCK's SparkPage
I think a lot of people that have commented here are hung up about eating fruits and veggies because they seem to think (or at least based on some of the comments) that the only way to have them and be healthy is to eat them plain. I personally like a lot of fruits and vegetables, but my kids have quite a few that they have hang-ups with. My suggestion to them is always to take a "no thank you bite" of dishes that have that particular item in it and they may find a way to eat it that they do like. For instance, they both hate spinach. If I cook spinach and put it on their plates by itself neither one of them would go near it with a ten foot pole. But my daughter absolutely loves spinach artichoke dip (so I look for ways to lighten that up a bit because although she's not eating spinach by itself, she's still getting the nutrients from it if it's prepared right). She also loves uncooked spinach on a Subway sandwich. My son doesn't like spinach, but if I make scrambled eggs with spinach and feta for myself, he sits right next to me and begs for bites worse than the dog!! But again, had they not tried one bite of it just because it had spinach in it they never would have eaten any spinach at all. Another option (if someone else prepares your food) is to have them try to come up with creative ways to sneak it into other things you will eat (for example, grating carrots and zucchini really fine and adding them to spaghetti sauce. If you have some meat in the sauce as well, you barely notice the added veggies). Again you are getting the benefits (nutrients) from the zucchini and carrots without having to actually eat a plain piece of zucchini or a raw carrot. Just a few suggestions that may be worth a try--good luck!!
5/9/2011 10:56:06 AM

JUSFOLK's SparkPage
Yesterday I posted my recipe for "Colorful Vegetable Quiche". It requires a bit of chopping, but while you're at it, the recipe can be doubled for eating some now and freezing leftovers for a quick, nutrient-packed meal later. A bit of chopped ham or chicken could replace part of the veggies to add a punch of extra protein. Hope you'll try it:)
5/9/2011 8:46:18 AM

HANNAHLU1's SparkPage
I am in agreement with TYKXBOY. I don't eat anything green, never have and never will. I do eat carrots, corn and potatoes. As far as fruit, I will eat them once in awhile but never buy them because my husband won't eat them. Many times I have wished that I could eat a salad but just thinking about it tends to make me shudder. 5 fruits and veggies a day......I'm lucky to get 5 a week! I do take vitamins though ;-)
5/9/2011 12:52:29 AM

RUTHIE254's SparkPage
Best way to keep fresh fruits & veggies? Look at how they're stored in the store. If refrigerated, then refrigerate at home. At room temp?--Put them in baskets & bowls on the counter. When they're right out in front of you, they won't last!!
5/3/2011 1:31:04 PM

CAROLJ35's SparkPage
We live next door to three grandkids whose mother likes only a few vegetables: lima beans, asparagus, corn and broccoli. She is not a big fruit eater either.
DH and I are the opposite and we have gotten the kids who are ages 9, 12 and 15 to eat almost everything. Last night I made a squash casserole and they all ate and enjoyed it, even Mommy who said, "I don't know how you get squash to taste so good".
(Little does she know it contains mayonnaise which she hates. I'll never tell.)
4/17/2011 9:26:43 AM

Just wanted to drop a note for those who don't really like veggies. I really don't like them when they are overcooked. And for the most part, now I oven roast them. It brings out the natural sugars in beets and squashes and sweet potatoes. I like to chunk the squash and sweet potatoes I cut like french fries.
I know what TYKXBOY is talking about when it comes to mouth appeal. I had the problem with meat growing up. Hated the stuff until I got pregnant the first time. There are still things I have a hard time with. I can have a small piece of fish and then I get the road block in my head and can't put another piece in my mouth.
I am so glad this is not true for fruits and veggies for me.
1/9/2011 9:31:33 PM

Do it yourself Homemade Fruit and Veggie Wash
1/9/2011 2:21:54 PM

EILEENV3's SparkPage
A whole clean pepper can be eaten like an apple for a snack while doing outside activities. I take them in my pack in a small bag with a nampkin for hikes.
1/9/2011 2:02:51 PM

I LOVE did not want to leave the impression that I do not eat them.
Just the low carb ones even though squash (higher carb) is my favourite.
1/9/2011 1:59:37 PM

hmmm..well I agree with the pesticide statement on most of our food, not just fruits.
Yes you can buy organic but they are quite expensive.
There is also the issue of GMO so it is hard to really feel comfortable about eating fresh foods today.
Personally I don't trust any government agency statements of health.
For years they said Tuna was a great food and now a lot of people have overloads of mercury because it is filled with it.
I believe you have to use your own instinct and judgement and make trade offs.

Many fruits are high in simple sugars and carbs..I'll change that to "most" fruits.
10/27/2010 8:37:40 AM

I also have to make an effort to eat enough veggies. I love fruit but then I'm over my carbs in no time. And no, I don't buy chips or cookies or other junk food. Hate chips, and when I really want cookies I'll make them myself. Usually that's too much bother so it doesn't happen.

Everybody has their own struggles or else we wouldn't be here. Some empathy instead of criticism would be appreciated.
9/1/2010 1:54:25 PM

GARDENQE2's SparkPage
Good article!
As a child I was a very picky eater, and then my grandma started letting me cook. It is very empowering for a 6-year-old to be able to pick through the food and get rid of anything she feels is yucky. I think this made me more tolerant of various foods. I also began growing my own vegetables quite young. Perhaps you would find vegetables less objectionable if you raised them yourself, then picked and cooked them. Maybe start with something you already kinda like.
Have a good journey!
8/23/2010 4:02:13 PM

I agree with the last poster. Many people love their veggies, or even tolerate most of them, but those of us who can barely tolerate them are not an unhealthy freak-show of people who only eat pizza, cheeseburgers and candy.

I am a very picky eater and have an extreme aversion to most fruits and vegetables. Getting past the look and feel is often more difficult than getting past the taste. And even on the rare occasion where I muster up enough will-power to try new vegetables, I often can't palate them (taste or consistency) unless they are disguised in other foods. I can only eat tomatoes inside of a pasta or burrito or pot pie or stew. I wish this was not the case, but I've been trying for years to eat more fruits & vegetables and still have about 5 or 6 that I can tolerate. It is a HUGE mental block.

It's the same reason I can't eat eggs. I can't stand the smell of raw, cooked, or scrambled eggs. I can't stand the feel of them in my mouth or the taste. You may love them, but my mind and my taste buds don't share your feelings.

And I don't buy huge bags of candy and chips, instead. I still eat healthy. I drink OJ, and eat cheerios, and apples and peas, and skinless chicken, and lean steaks. I just don't eat that many fruits & veggies because I just not only don't like them, I have something in my brain that makes me not like them for various reasons.

For instance, I have eaten a chili dish my wife makes that has beans in it and I like the taste. However, when I actually see I have a bean on my spoon, I have a hard time even putting it in my mouth even though I already know how it is going to taste. The look and consistency of a food plays a huge mental role for some of us who are super picky eaters.

I think that's the biggest reason that's left out of this article. How to get over your personal mental aversion to eating fruit & veggies. My wife loves them and craves salad. I have never once craved a salad or any kind of fruit or veggies. Maybe I need to invest in aversion therapy or some serious will-power, but it's not something I've been able to overcome, yet.

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