Saturday, March 26, 2011

Don't Hide the Veggies

Vegetables are a challenge for many people working to achieve weight loss success. Maybe they don't like them. Maybe they never learned to cook them. Maybe they think vegetables come in a can or a plastic bag. Maybe they believe vegetables means carrot sticks.

I can see why vegetables would be unappealing!

To combat this, many "experts" advocate hiding the vegetables and sneaking them into our meals, and thereby our bodies, undetected. Often they do this by pureeing the vegetable and adding that puree to other foods.

This can be a useful tactic for getting some extra veggies into our bodies, sure. But it is not a long-term solution--and certainly not the way to handle the majority of our vegetable intake.

Veggies 101: Vegetables fall into the carbohydrate class of food. When people hear that they often thing that if they want to go on a low carb diet they should cut back on carbs, but that's just not right! Most veggies are the best kind of carbs and should be increased in our diet--especially if we want weight loss success!

Veggies have a variety of vitamins that our bodies need. Because they are a complex carb they provide our bodies with fuel that when broken down is a much more stable and long lasting fuel than simple carbs like sugar, breads or pasta.

Veggies also require that we chew. This is good for our teeth and all the muscles in our face. Chewing also stimulates all the juices we need to properly digest our food...going liquid can't do that for us.

Veggies provide fiber--an essential ingredient that aids in keeping our insides clean, and helps us feel full.

Pureeing vegetables breaks down some of that fiber and so we lose one of the key benefits that veggies provide.

What we also lose is the opportunity to retrain our thinking about vegetables. If we consistently hide and disguise them we will never acquire a taste for vegetables. Instead we will reinforce the idea that they are "yucky."

Instead of hiding veggies, have them out in plain sight! One of the good things about veggies is that most of them cook pretty even if you are running late you can chop up a few and cook them as a first course or even have them raw as an appetizer.

That doesn't mean that you want to have a big ol' bowl of broccoli on the table at every meal. Heck, I LIKE broccoli and would get bored by that. Mix it up. Experiment with different vegetables, different spices and how you prepare them. Try steaming, grilling, broiling, stir fry...they are all delicious and quick ways to prepare many vegetables. Just remember to keep them "al dente"...they should have a little crunch left in them or you will lose all the vital nutrients.

When you have small amounts of vegetables left over, either cooked or raw, experiment some more and add them to eggs in the morning for a healthy scramble, or to soup or on top of a salad. Those are simple and easy ways to get more veggies into your daily routine.

Stay tuned for the next post for ways to get more veggies into your diet...if you are counting calories then keep in mind that many vegetables while filled with nutrients are so low in calories you can eat as much as you want!

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