Are you Getting Enough Fruits and Veggies?

A lot of people may think they get enough fruit and veggies over the day, but they may fall short of the recommendations.  To start off, what are the recommendations? In general, the more produce the better, but check these charts for your age and sex to get specific recommendations.

Daily Fruit Needs
Image from http://choosemyplate.gov/
Daily Vegetable Needs
Image from http://choosemyplate.gov/

These recommendations are pretty clear by putting them into “cups” rather than a number of servings.  However, there are 2 exceptions.  When it comes to dried fruit 1/2 a cup counts as a full cup.  The volume is smaller just because they are dehydrated, but they retain their nutrition.  The second difference is with leafy green vegetables.  This includes lettuce, spinach, kale and other salad mixes.  Because they are so light, 2 measured cups equals a cup serving.  Use the below images that I got from PopSugar to help you visualize your actual needs.  It may not be as daunting as  you think,

Fruit ServingFruit Servings 3 Fruit Serving 2

I couldn’t find similar images of vegetables but just grab some measuring cups and measure it out.

If these charts and images make you realize that your intake is on the low side, you are in good company.  The CDC conducted a study and found that on average, only 32.5% of Americans meet their needs for fruit and only 26.3% meet their vegetable needs.  These numbers have actually gotten worse since 2000.  Statistically, the highest intake is found in women, adults over 65, and in those with a college degree.  Surprisingly, fruit intake is very similar across income brackets (vegetable intake is highest in those with salaries above $50,000).  This shows that social factors and education may be more important than income.

But you may ask, why is it important?  Well for your personal health, it is probably the best thing you can do.  Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in salt, fat, and calorie making it easier to lose weight or stay where you are.  It has also been shown that a diet high in produce can reduce your risk for heart disease, certain cancers, stroke, lower your blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and kidney stones.  They are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, water, and phytonutrients.  All of these are critically important for your body to function properly and at its highest level.

Keep your eyes peeled for a follow up post on how to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your daily life.

Do you struggle with your produce intake?

How to Stay Hydrated Without Really Trying

Keeping hydrated is something that people talk about a lot during the summer.  Its hot, we sweat and a tall glass of water is incredibly appealing.  But it is just as important in the winter and is frequently overlooked as an important area of well being.  According to a study by the University of New Hampshire, we are prone do dehydration in the winter about the same as in hot weather.  A lot of water is lost simply through breathing and perspiration.  We may think that these losses are low, but we sweat under our layers and when the air is very dry, water evaporates quickly.

Being in cold weather also affects our ability to regulate fluid balance in an attempt to conserve heat.  This means that when we are dehydrated, our body does not release a hormone that triggers thirst in addition to not conserving water in the kidneys, increasing water loss.  Since our body is not automatically correcting, we need to be more conscious about our fluid intake.  Incorporate these strategies the help prevent dehydration which can result in dry mouth, sleepiness, headaches, dry skin, constipation and dizziness.

Keep Water Available

If you don’t have any water, you aren’t going to drink it.  Keep a bottle in your car, on your desk, or by your bed.  This way when you do get thirsty it is nice and easy.  It also serves as a physical reminder that you should have something.  Even casually sipping over the day can result in an improved intake.

Drink with Meals

Always have a glass when you eat.  This may also be a helpful strategy if you are trying to cut calories.  It slows down your eating, helps you feel full sooner and eases digestion.  You need enough fluid in your body to have comfortable bowel movements as too little can lead to constipation. Having a glass with meals also gives you 3 structured opportunities each day to help out your hydration.

Use a straw

They help you drink much faster, leading to a larger volume.  It is common advice to avoid straws when drinking alcohol because of this.  Due to the mindless-ness of the act, it wont feel like a chore and  you can empty a water bottle pretty quickly.  It also makes drinking in the car easier and less prone to spillage.

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Drink Alternative Beverages

In general water is best.  It is certainly better than soda or juice for hydration, but it is not the only option.  Many people are so bored with water the thought of drinking 8 glasses a day is such an imposition.  Unsweetened hot or iced tea is a wonderful alternative as it has frequently been linked to its own health benefits.  They also come in a wide range of flavors.  Pay attention to caffeine intake and drink throughout the day.  You can also infuse water produce or herbs.  Cucumbers, mint, berries and watermelon all make great, refreshing water that are almost calorie free.  Just put your desired flavoring agents in a jug of water overnight and enjoy the next day.

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Don’t forget about Exercise

Anytime you work out, remember you are losing water.  Even light yoga or weight lifting should have you pre and re-hydrating.  Have a glass before you work out and keep a bottle on you during.  Exercise may trigger your thirst so embrace it.  In addition to being healthful, it can also prevent dangerous situations.  Dehydration can cause dizziness, being light headed, and having reduced coordination.  All of these can lead to serious injury if you are active – think dropping  your weight, falling on a treadmill or blowing out a joint due to poor form.

Track It

You never really know how much you drink throughout the day if you don’t pay attention to it.  Physically tracking it, at least initially, can clue you in to whether or not you are meeting your needs.  There are a ton of different methods you can try.  If you track your food intake in a written food journal or online, just add in all of your beverages as well.  If you carry a water bottle with you and refill it during the day, keep a sticky note by you and make a tally mark every time you finish a bottle.  Or you can per-portion all of your water for the day and when its done, you know that you have reached your goal.waterbottle

What do you do to keep hydrated?