What are some easy changes people can make at home to eat more healthily or get more fruits and veggies in?
For starters, as much as I want to say “always focus on getting your nutrients from whole foods,” I eat everything. I believe in balance in eating. Eat whatever you crave, but also focus on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains when [you] can, as much as [you] can. I know that’s really hard.
So there are a few things. Start your day with a routine, just like brushing your teeth. Pop your vitamin, your Juice Plus+ chewable, whatever it is, so you know that there’s a baseline of what you can do for the day — you’ve had some nutrients.
Also, I always believe in, especially for families, getting kids involved in the kitchen. It’s hard for all parents to raise kids who want to eat all their fruits and veggies, and no kid is perfect. We are bombarded by over-processed food and junk all day long in the world. At every turn, children see it, and why wouldn’t they want it? It’s marketed to them, and it looks cool and it’s flashy. So the more time you can spend cooking with your kid, the more pride they take in the food they’ll eat [and] the more open they’ll be to try new things. That’s something that I try to do as much as I can, even though I’m a full-time working mom and I sometimes get home too late to do it.
The other thing is thinking about ways to keep things in your pantry that are easy [to] access, that are affordable, and that can always add nutrients to any meal. That means I always have lots of canned beans, chickpeas, dried lentils, dried whole grains, dried beans, brown rice, and quinoa in my cupboard so that they’re easy to reach for when I need some nutrients to go with anything else.
Often, I go to my fridge and I have a few things that are almost going bad and I need to clean them out, like I have a random half bunch of spinach and two carrots. Well, you add that to a can of beans that you sauté with that half an onion on your counter, add some dried spices and a little seasoning, and it’s a delicious meal that can be made pretty easily without a lot of cost. It’s about having the basics in your pantry so that you can build on them when you have the opportunity.