Quite simply, most of us do not eat enough vegetables. We’re all very aware of the recommendation of five portions of vegetables and fruit every day (although this has recently been increased to seven) but how many of us actually achieve it? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2010 that only 33% of American adults were eating the daily recommended amount of fruit, and even fewer — 27% — were meeting their veggie quota. The numbers for teens were worse. So do you think you eat enough veggies? Here’s signs that you should look for that say no and you need to eat more:
1. You Always Feel Hungry
One of the most telling signs you don’t eat enough vegetable is that you never feel truly full. Most diets in the U.S. consist mostly of processed foods, sugars and refined grains. While this diet can make you feel full temporarily, it can lead to a number of micronutrient deficiencies. Often, nutrient deficiencies can leave us feeling like we still need something, sometimes even after we’ve just eaten. Vegetables offer a sense of fullness, but better yet, there is some delay emptying the gut, which makes you feel full longer. Choose veggies that are full of fiber, like carrots, peas, onions or beans.
2. You Seem to Get Sick a Lot
First, a visit to your doctor is advised. But, if it seems like you’re under the weather more often than not, you might want to look at your diet. Your immune system is strengthened by the vitamins and minerals you take into your body. Vegetables are vitamin- and mineral-dense, while processed foods are often full of empty calories. If you don’t get enough immune support through your food, you may get sick more frequently. Certain foods, like broccoli and mushrooms, help keep your immune system strong.
3. You Have Skin Problems
If you are always breaking out, your skin is ruddy or you’re just a little off color, it could be you’re lacking in greens and other vegetables. Your diet may consist of too many fats as well. Look for vegetables that can protect you against free-radicals and toxins that may be doing a number on your skin. Veggies high in vitamin E & C, like cucumbers, spinach, sweet potatoes, and bell peppers, tomatoes, and avocados.
4. You Rely on Multivitamins for Nutrition
If you don’t think you get enough nutrition from the foods you eat, you may try to take supplements to make up for the lack of vitamins. Or, you simply may feel like you want to cover your bases. However, the body absorbs vitamins and minerals better if they come from whole fruits and vegetables, so taking a supplement will not provide whole spectrum of benefits found in real foods. Fresh vegetables are better, but frozen veggies do the trick as well.
5. You’re Always Tired
Of course, there could be a good medical reason you feel tired, so check with your doctor to be sure you are otherwise healthy. Vegetables come packed with nutrition, phytochemicals and antioxidants as well as B-complex vitamins - if you don’t eat enough vegetables you could experience confusion, brain fog or mental tiredness. Not only that, many vegetables help give you natural energy, so instead of reaching for that high-caffeine drink, perhaps reach for some vegetables instead.
6. You’re Having Trouble Staying Regular
A lack of adequate veggies can give you either constipation or diarrhea, ironically. So, if you find yourself straining or if you find yourself visiting the toilet more often than necessary, both these problems may be solved with vegetable fiber. Vegetables contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Both are good for alleviating diarrhea, but if you’re experiencing constipation look for foods high in the insoluble fibers, such as whole wheat, cabbage, bell peppers, and cucumbers with the skin left on.
7. You Shop the Inner Aisles of the Supermarket
If you’re only shopping the inner aisles, you’re missing out on the fresher food found in the peripheral parts of the store, particularly the produce section, where you need to fill up your cart. Shop the outside edges of the store first, where you’ll get fresh fruits, veggies, meats, and dairy. Then go to the inner aisles to fill in what you still need.
So now – tell me – do you need to add more veggies to your shopping cart this week?