Like it or not, eating fruits and vegetables are a very important part of a balanced diet.  Studies from Harvard University and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention show they contain many benefits for fighting off chronic diseases such as strokes, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and possibly even heart disease.  They help you maintain a healthy weight by fueling your metabolism and curbing your hunger, while giving your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to function properly. 

The age-old question though is how many fruits and vegetables should I eat in a day? We hear a lot of answers to this question, but all the answers hover around the idea that we need to be having 4 to 5 cups of fruits and vegetables combined each day.  Here are my questions; what does that really boil down to, and how do I get those servings in while I am on the road?  Below are some tips for eating fruits and veggies.

What’s my number?
  • Tip:  I recently found a nifty little way to find the answer to this question on a very basic level.  The CDC (Center for Disease Control) has a calculator you can use to find out what is right for you.  It takes into account your age, gender, and activity level to give you a personalized answer.  However, it does not take into consideration any of your personal health concerns.  Regardless, it’s a great place to start.  I plugged in a few different scenarios and most came up with everyone needing around 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables each day.
  • Trick:  Now if you are like me, when I started this journey of beginning to eat healthier, I read those serving recommendations and I thought it was a lot!  And it is, but I do not suggest starting this tomorrow unless you are really ready for the change.  Take it slow.  This week, work on adding one more serving than you usually eat a day.  Next week, add another one on top of that.  Continue this process until you are hitting your target.  Change made over time will be easier to sustain in the long run.
How do I get all those fruits and veggies into my diet?
  • Tip: Start with fruits and vegetables you know you like.  Adding those in first will be easier.  If you know you don’t like cauliflower, don’t eat it!  That’s a sure-fire way to drop this change before it has time to become a habit.  There are so many fruits and vegetables there is no need for you to eat ones you don’t like.  Once you find a good base of ones you like, spend some time just looking around in the produce section of your grocery store and pick out some you might like to try.  If you had asked me three years ago to eat a fresh date, I probably would have said no.  One day, I finally stepped outside my comfort zone to try them and now I eat them every morning! 
  • Trick: The trick to getting these in will be substitutions.  I found that if I included one vegetable with every meal, and then one fruit with every snack, it was very doable.  You cannot add this to what you already eat in a day.  If you do, you’ll just be adding calories to your diet and you’ll actually see weight gain.  This is where the substitution comes in.  If you normally have rice or pasta with your meal, then cut that in half and add the vegetable.  To truly do this right, half of your plate should be vegetables.  Another trick is to eat the fruit or vegetable first, then the rest of your meal.  If you find yourself still hungry at the end of a meal, try eating more of the vegetable and drinking a glass of water, then wait 10 to 15 minutes.  If you’re still hungry after that, go ahead and take another half portion of the main part of your meal, but my guess is that you won’t need it. 
What does a cup of fruit or vegetable look like?
  • Tip: Here is a list for you to use to be sure you’re getting the right amounts without having to carry around a measuring cup!
1 cup:

 

1 Small Apple 1 Large Bell Pepper
12 Baby Carrots or 2 Medium Carrots 8 Large Strawberries
1 Medium Grapefruit 3 Medium Plums
1 Large Orange 1 Medium Potato
1 Medium Pear 1 Large Ear of Corn
 
½ Cup:

 

 

4 oz Applesauce, a snack container 1 Small Box of Raisins
5 Broccoli Florets 1 Small Banana
½ a Grapefruit 16 Grapes
1 Large Plum 1 Small Sweet Potato

 

  • Trick:  I know that keeping fresh produce can be hard.  You will need to stop at a grocery store at least once a week.  But when you do, wash and prepare them into their serving sizes in bags or containers right away.  That way you save space and make it easier to grab when it’s snack time.  Fresh is really better if you can make it work because it won’t have the added preservatives. Use the canned ones if you need to.  Just watch the sodium levels.  Juices and smoothies can work too but again, watch out for what else is in them.  Fruit juices often lose some of the benefits of fruit like fiber and can also have unnecessary calories and sugars.

These are just some ideas and tips and tricks that worked for me. Be open to them to new diet ideas.  And remember to enjoy your world, don’t just live it in!  You never know what new fruit or vegetable might work and blow your mind!

Servings of Fruits and Veggies How many servings of fruits and vegetables do you eat in a day?
 
8%
 
60%
 
21%
 
8%

Comments (14)

Carissa Berres

As a person who has lost 60 lbs...twice...I've learned a lot about the little things it takes to not only lose weight, but live a healthy balanced life. I enjoy staying active and after tackling a 100 mile bike ride that I completed in June 2012, I am currently training to do a Triathlon! I love learning more about food and exercise.

Read These Next...

LIVE Smart

6 Week Challenge

February 21, 2015

LIVE Smart

The NutriBullet

February 18, 2016

LIVE Smart

Hot Logic Mini

January 08, 2020

 
 

Thank you for the infor and the link, it is good infor to know.

November 22, 2012 6:39:25 AM

I have incorporated a lot of fruit and veggies into my diet. Lots of broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus and other leafy green vegetables. I also eat a lot of berries. Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. Great on a bowl of cereal to start the day. Loaded with antioxidants. Bananas, grapes, apples, mandarin oranges (easy to peel while driving), kiwi, peaches and more. Nuts are good and healthy too. Get the raw kind before they are roasted and loaded up with oil and salt. Not too much on the nuts, though. They are high in calories.

November 19, 2012 9:08:56 AM

David, I am going to try you idea.

November 15, 2012 10:33:02 AM

I too have started eating healthier all based on the articles you have been writing!

November 15, 2012 10:05:11 AM

I wish I had known this when I younger.

November 15, 2012 8:44:43 AM

After taking a good look in the mirror and observing my fellow drivers I knew I had to make a change and I have started making better choices. This article has helped me in making even better choices. I have been bringing more vegetables and fruit with me each week and have been able to cut out all the snack cakes and candy bars.

November 14, 2012 22:00:31 PM

Hey, great article NOTE speggetti squash is a great substitute for pasta, and cooks up easy in the microwave a little spegetti sauce poured over it and you have a healthy spegetti!

November 14, 2012 9:37:53 AM

Great ideas Linda! You can also do plums and pears and they'll be okay not in a refrigerator. I didn't talk about dried fruits at all in the article, mainly because they can be really high in sugar. They are a good snack choice, definitely better than potato chips, but they're really not going to count towards your daily fruits and veggies. They should be eaten in small quantities.

November 14, 2012 9:25:24 AM

Chris - Apples, oranges, grapes are a great choice for the truck as they do not have to be kept cold. If you have a microwave potatoes, squash, and sweet potatoes are easy to cook. Another easy snack that does not have to be kept cold is grape tomatoes. Look through the grocery store at the fruits and vegetables that are not kept in the refrigerated sections.

November 14, 2012 5:07:44 AM

This story just made me to get motivated. I used to cut up fruit every weekend to take along with me during the week. I have gotten away from this practice and need to start bringing more fruit along.

November 13, 2012 19:18:46 PM

I did about a month on the Engine 2 Diet this summer (I was home mostly and it was easy to do then) and I felt great. All veggies and whole grain foods, lost weight, and had lots of energy. When I hit the road however, I slowly slipped back into my old habits, more out of convenience than anything.
I've had a hard time keeping vegetables and fruits out here on the road, anybody have any good tips for freshness? I suppose one could stop at Wal-mart every two days to stock up, but sometimes that is a burden (especially in the my line of freight!)

November 13, 2012 16:08:22 PM

Carissa good article and I enjoyed the link to CDC fruits and vegetable calculator. You have great tips including not trying to force ourselves to eat something we do not like give it time as our taste buds do change. A lot of fruits and vegetables do not need to be kept cool which sure helps in the trucks with the small refrigerators. Nice article thank you.

November 13, 2012 12:22:31 PM

Good article. I always try to eat at least one salad per day. The trick is always to eat the salad at the beginning of the meal. That way you will be sure of getting your veggies!

November 13, 2012 12:16:24 PM

Reading this was not only interesting and thought provoking (introspective) it was also fun (the CDC website calculator).

It reminds me of a 1970's Australian government anti-obesity PR campaign entitled "Life. Be in it." That campaign went viral - before we coined that word - maybe this advice will go viral too.

Nice, Carissa! And your a good writer too.

November 13, 2012 9:47:01 AM