16 Ways To Eat More Fruit & Vegetables

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Vegetables are the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.  Ideally we should aim for 10-12 servings of vegetables and fruit per day at a ratio of 5 vegetables for every 1 serving of fruit.  Vegetables have the nutrients we need to keep our metabolism functioning properly and fibre that will keep us full longer. 

Not eating enough fruits and veggies can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies which can result in a decrease of the following:

  • our energy
  • our metabolism
  • our motivation
  • our mood
  • our performance
  • our ability to shed fat

Yikes!  That’s a list of things I want more of – not less.  It’s a great reminder when meal planning for your family.  We NEED to eat plenty of fruits and veggies!!

Here’s a few tips on how to increase our daily intake:

  1. Top off your breakfast oatmeal with sliced bananas or fresh berries or use bananas in your pancake batter.
  2. Put a bowl filled with washed fruit on the top shelf of the refrigerator so it will be the first thing you see
  3. Keep a bag of pre-cut veggies in the fridge with hummus, guacamole or nut butter for dipping
  4. Aim to eat at least one veggie or fruit with every meal and snack
  5. When eating at a restaurant include a tossed salad or a side order of veggies (and skip the fries)
  6. Explore new foods and cook one new vegetable every month until you find ones that you like and want to eat regularly
  7. Practice Meatless Mondays and cook vegetarian meals loaded with tonnes of veggies
  8. Hide more veggies – grate/chop veggies into your smoothies, soups, meatballs, pasta sauce and put them into your baked goods like loaf bread, scones and muffins
  9. Double the amount of veggies that a recipe calls for (it usually will make it tastier!)
  10. Mix cauliflower into mashed potatoes
  11. Make an on-the-go veggie snack bag for you and your kids (if they are hungry enough they will eat anything)
  12. Replace a bun on your burger with a lettuce wrap (you can even request this at McDonalds)
  13. Stock your freezer with frozen veggies.  They don’t spoil and you will always have something for dinner
  14. If you are super busy and pressed for time.  Splurge on pre-cut veggies so they are ready to eat.
  15. Sweeten your baked goods with dates instead of sugar
  16. For those of you with a big sweet tooth, try eating a couple of dried figs for dessert.  They sell yummy ones at Costco

A serving of fruit/veggies is:

  • 1 medium size fruit or vegetable
  • use your fist as a reference – 1 fist is one serving or 1/2 fist is one serving for starchy vegetables such as potatoes
  • 2 cups or 2 fists is one serving of leafy greens (spinach, kale, romaine etc)
  • 1/4 cup of dried fruit which is about the size of a small box of raisins
  • Do not include fruit/veggie juice (unless you use your own juicer) as a serving of fruit/veggies.  It’s missing too much of the beneficial fibre and nutrients.

All fruits and vegetables contain Phytonutrients.  These are natural, protective substances found in plants that give them their unique colour and gives us nutritional defences to fight disease. To get the full range of health benefits associated with phytonutrients, try to eat a rainbow of colours every day. Try to eat at least one fruit or vegetable from each colour. Here are the colour groupings with the nutrients and benefits of each:

Red – containing lycopene and ellagic acid for heart, cell and immune health

Orange/Yellow – containing alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, hesperidin, beta-cryptoxanthin for eye health, healthy immune function, maintaining skin hydration, and healthy growth and development

Green – containing EGCG, lutien/zeaxanthin, isoflavones, isothiocyanate for cell health, supporting arterial function, lung health, and maintaining healthy liver function

Blue/Purple – containing resveratrol and anthocyanidins for cognitive health, heart health, supporting artierial function and antioxidant protection

White – containing allicin, quercetin for healthy bones, circulatory health and supporting arterial function

Eating real food like fruits and vegetables makes us feel good and keeps us healthy.  Nobody ever said “I regret eating healthy today”.  You deserve the best!  Fuel your body with the best food.

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Are Sore Muscles The Sign Of A Good Workout?

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You’ve probably experienced muscle soreness after an intense workout. The reason for this is that during strength training there are microscopic tears within our muscle.  Scientists believe that the tears in our muscles, along with inflammation are what cause muscle pain after a hard workout. 

Do not worry – these tears are actually good and make you stronger.  They occur most often on the eccentric (the lowering) movement of our exercise.  Think of a bicep curl.  Lifting the dumbbell is the concentric movement and lowering it is the eccentric movement.  It is the eccentric movement which causes the muscle to tear and then your body initiates the repair  and re-building response to develop the muscle.  The repairing process results in muscular growth and increased strength.  .  Have you ever wondered why your trainer wants you to lower your weights down slowly instead of letting gravity pull you down?  This is why.  Tears lead to repairs which leads to more strength.

DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) is your body’s way of telling you to rest and recover.  Listen to your body.  If you have muscles that are very sore after a particular workout, rest those muscles.   After you repeat a workout over several weeks, you will notice that you are no longer sore.  This is your body adapting to the stimulus.  This is why it’s important to constantly change your workouts by adding extra weight, changing the reps, rest, timing or movements.  Our bodies are always adapting to change and we need to continually alter our fitness program to see progress.

DOMS usually hits the hardest 24-48 hours after exercises.  Some people live for it and others dread it.  For some, the feeling of muscle soreness after a hard workout feels like an achievement and a reward for pushing hard.  If you are in this category then you may feel discouraged if you are pushing really hard in your workouts and not feeling that soreness the next day.

The truth is that DOMS is not an accurate gauge of an effective workout.  If you feel DOMS then yes, you have successfully damaged your muscle which leads to growth and increased strength but it is not a definitive measurement of improvement.  You could have an awesome workout and not be sore the next day.  According to Brad Schoenfeld, an internationally renowned fitness expert, “You don’t need to experience muscle soreness after a training session to build muscle, and you probably shouldn’t rely on it as an accurate indicator of productiveness.”

There is still a lot of unknowns when it comes to DOMS.  Genetically some people feel it more often than others.  Some muscle groups are more prone to it than other.  As long as you are pushing yourself to your own limits and constantly challenging yourself then you are on the right fitness path. 

If you have DOMS and need relief, there treatments that can ease your discomfort. Foam rolling is one great way to reduce muscle soreness.  Other treatments include Epsom Salt baths, sleep, increased protein intake and omega-3 supplementation (to reduce inflammation).  These are simple ways reduce muscle soreness after a hard workout.