The Nutrition Nook: resolve to make fruits and veggies an easy new year goal

The Nutrition Nook: resolve to make fruits and veggies an easy new year goal

By Kristin Kessler, nutrition specialist at Fleishman-Hillard

kristinkesslerWith the start of the New Year many also begin to think about a new and improved self. There is no better way to start fresh in 2013 than by resolving to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet. High in many vitamins, minerals and fiber while being low in calories, fat and sodium, fruit is a wonderfully healthy addition to any diet.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA )went from recommending five servings of fruits and vegetables a day with the food pyramid to “make half your plate fruits and vegetables” with the new "Choose My Plate" method. The high fiber and water content of fruits and vegetables help people to feel full quicker without excess calories while providing key nutrients for a healthy body. Eating more fruits and vegetables should definitely be a “do” on everyone’s to-do list for the New Year.

While many people make resolutions on Jan. 1, oftentimes they are forgotten or discarded by February. Help your consumers keep up with their good intentions by encouraging them to make SMART goals:

- Start off the goal by being very "Specific." Vague thoughts and ambiguity are not needed here.

- The goal must also be "Measurable." This is where numbers become important.

- Keeping the goal "Achievable" yet "Relevant" will help to ensure success while making sure the goal is beneficial.

- Finally, a "Time-limited" goal keeps the goal setter accountable and keeps things moving forward.

To give an example, “eat more fruits and vegetables” is not a SMART goal and is one that can easily be forgotten a few weeks into 2013.

A more appropriate SMART goal to put at the top of the list might be, “Eat two servings of fruits and vegetables five days a week.” This goal is specific, rather than just eating “healthier.” This goal specifies what healthier means and that is to consume more fruits and vegetables. It is both measurable and time-limited in the number of servings eaten per day and how many days this must be kept up per week.

Finally, whether it is achievable and relevant is all up to the previous eating habits of the person setting the goal. Encourage your consumers to set these SMART goals for eating more fruits and vegetables in the New Year.

Setting a goal is one thing but following through on it is another. Here are some quick and easy suggestions on how to make fruits and vegetables the all-stars of 2013:

1. Keep fresh fruit and vegetables in sight. A fruit bowl on the counter does wonders as a visual reminder to grab an apple or banana as a snack instead of a granola bar. Cutting up fruit and/or repacking it into smaller containers as soon as you get home from the store is also a great way to make that bag of berries or grapes just as convenient as the bag of chips.

2. Add fruit and vegetables to traditional favorites. There is no need to reinvent the wheel every time; a few simple changes can refresh and liven up any dish. Fresh or dried fruit in a salad adds an extra serving of fruit, a few grams of fiber and a pop of unexpected color.

Many vegetable dishes can handle the addition of fruit as well to create a savory-sweet combination to delight the taste buds. Pureed carrots sweeten spaghetti sauce without added sugar while pureed banana, pumpkin and even prunes are a great natural sweetener for baked goods. Even old stalwarts like the venerable peanut butter and jelly can get a makeover with the addition of fresh, sliced fruit instead of jam. The addition of fruit elevates any dish from typical to wow!

3. Feeling bold? Go global. For those more adventurous cooks, look to global cuisines and spice pairings. A traditional dish from across the map might just be the thing to spice up dinner and keep good intentions from going stale.

4. Fruit makes the perfect accessory to a light meal. Quick, easy and satisfying, fruit is the perfect complement to a sandwich, wrap, bowl of soup, anything! Whether it’s packed in a kid's lunchbox or stored on a desk, busy consumers appreciate anything that makes life a little bit easier for them.

Making a lifestyle change can be a scary and difficult thing, but hopefully with these tips, the choice to include more fruits and vegetables for a healthier 2013 will not be!

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