Recently the National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance (NFVA) released the National Action Plan to Promote Health Through Increased Fruit and Vegetable Consumption 2010 Report Card.  You may recall that way back in 2005 the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans dramatically increased the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables from 5-9 daily servings to 5-13 daily servings.  This report shows how much progress we have made since 2005 in getting enough fruit and vegetables in our diet.  While the Report Card assigns grades, A through F, to strategies that have been in place for five years, we can easily grade ourselves.  So how are we doing?

Most of us got an F.  (Ouch.)

Despite the “5 A Day” campaign, (rebranded as “Fruits & Veggies – More Matters” in 2007,) and millions of dollars spent on getting the word out, the report noted that “only 6% of individuals achieve their recommended target for vegetables; similarly, only 8% achieve their recommended target for fruit in an average day.”

While some groups are making slight progress, no groups (children, men, women, etc.) increased their vegetable consumption by 5% between 2004 and 2009.  And teen fruit and vegetable consumption has declined over the past 5 years.

Time For A Major Shift In Our Food Choices

We know fruit and vegetable are important.  Who doesn’t want to live a long and healthy life, full of energy?  While our hectic lifestyles and limited vegetable preparation skills (or interest) can make getting the recommended amounts a challenge, it is possible.

GOAL:  Most of us need 1-1/2 cups of fruit and 2-1/2 cups of vegetables a day.  All forms of fruit and veg count – fresh, frozen, dried and canned.

Breakfast:  If you usually enjoy a bowl of cereal, add half a banana sliced, or a 1/4-cup of raisins to the bowl.  Try making a delicious kefir or yogurt shake with a banana and frozen blueberries.

Snack:  If you eat breakfast very early, what do you reach for mid-morning?  Keep a large apple handy, or some trail mix with nuts and dried fruit.

Lunch:  Sandwiches are great, but rarely is there a cup or even a half cup of vegetables between those slices of bread.  Opt for a large mixed green salad that includes a protein like sliced chicken breast or nuts.

Snack:  That long stretch from lunch to dinner makes the stomach growl.  Keep a container of cut up celery and carrots.  Sometimes we just need something to munch on.

Dinner:  Rethink the meat-and-two-veg dinner plate.  Reduce the amount of meat on the plate and add a vegetable.  Learn to prepare one new vegetable, or a veg in a new way, each week.  Make it interesting!

How do you get more fruits and vegetables into your diet?  Please comment and share your tips!

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