You may think you eat enough vegetables—but more than likely, you’re wrong. On average, Americans only get two servings of vegetables per day. The USDA's Dietary Guidelines recommend adults eat anywhere from five to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables per day depending on age, gender, physical activity, and overall health. And those aren’t just numbers; skipping those key nutrients can seriously affect your overall health. (Here's exactly what happens when your body doesn't get enough vegetables.) Read on to find out ways your body is telling you what it needs, and how to give it the nutrients it craves.
There’s a lack of color on your plate
“The typical American meal of meat and potatoes may taste good, but it isn’t very colorful or loaded with balanced nutrition,” says Abby Sauer, RD, MPH, a dietician at Abbott. “Even though they may be favorite foods, plain pasta, rice, and bread don’t add much color to your meals and don’t add much nutrition in terms of essential vitamins and minerals either.”
You’re bruising easily
Consuming too little vitamin C can cause bruising easily, as well as increased bleeding around gums and decreased healing. Get vitamin C in red peppers, kale, red chili peppers, dark leafy vegetables, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and tomatoes. Check out these vegetables (and fruits) that will keep cancer at bay.
You’re tired all the time
Deficiency in folate can cause fatigue and anemia. This B vitamin can be found in dark leafy greens and starchy vegetables such as black eyed peas, kidney beans, lima beans, navy bean, asparagus, and lentils.
Content continues below ad
That nagging cold won’t go away
“If you lack vegetables in your diet and the important vitamins they provide, your body may lack the defenses it needs to release free radical fighters against viruses,” says Sauer. “Stock your fridge with dark leafy green vegetables, an excellent source of vitamin C, to give your immune system a boost and help shorten your recovery time.”
Your memory is foggy
While occasional forgetfulness can affect all ages, if you find your brain’s processing speed and efficiency fading as you get older, a lack of nutrients could be the culprit. “Lutein, a nutrient which has been shown in early research to enhance learning and memory, can be found in a variety of vegetables such as leafy greens, carrots, broccoli, corn, and tomatoes,” says Sauer. “Adding a few or all of these vegetables to your weekly meals can provide a helpful and natural brain boost.”
Daily stressors are getting harder to handle
While stress is an inevitable part of life, how we eat and treat ourselves directly affects our body’s response. “Inflammation is your body’s natural response to stress, so if you’re not handling stress well, inflammation and its damaging effects could be taking place,” says Sauer. “Foods rich in anti-inflammatory compounds such as unsaturated fatty acids [like salmon and tuna], antioxidants, polyphenols and carotenoids [like green leafy vegetables and bright-colored peppers] can help lower the levels of inflammation in the body and increase your mental capabilities to handle life’s curveballs.” These are the 14 best foods to eat when you're stressed.
You’re prone to muscle cramps
Fruits and vegetables contain potassium that may prevent muscle cramps, especially if you’re exercising or outside in hot summer months, says Emily Rubin, RD, registered dietitian in the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals. “One medium banana has 422 mg of potassium.”
Content continues below ad
Your scale won’t budge
“Fruits and vegetables have fiber that makes you feel full so you eat less,” says Rubin. “Most fruits and vegetables are low in calories. Fruit may also help with those sweet cravings. Choosing a bowl of strawberries instead of ice cream can save you 200 calories.”
Eat more veggies: Keep them on hand
According to Adrienne Youdim, MD, of Beverly Hills’ Lasky Clinic, prep is everything. “Spend a Sunday grilling your favorite veggies in a grill pan,” says Dr. Youdim. “Make them in abundance so that they can be incorporated into your salad or bagged lunch.” Here are ten of the healthiest green vegetables you can eat.
Eat more veggies: Get one serving per meal
“Adding color and variety to your daily meals with at least one serving of fruits or vegetables per meal can be as easy as unthawing a bag of frozen green beans, slicing up an apple, or adding a bowl of colorful berries to your meal,” says Sauer.
Eat more veggies: Buy frozen
“Many people avoid fresh vegetables because they go bad before having a chance to prepare them, they don’t like the chopping involved, or they’re not quite sure how to prepare them,” says Crystal Langlois RD, CSO, LD, clinical oncology dietitian at Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Southeastern Regional Medical Center. “Buying frozen vegetables is a great alternative that is convenient and easy. If all the prep work and chopping scares you, many grocery stores carry pre-chopped items in both the frozen and fresh produce areas.” If you still have that inner kid kicking and screaming to avoid eating your veggies, blend your veggies into shakes or smoothies. “The taste of vegetables is easily masked in shakes or smoothies by using fruits and fruits juices,” says Langlois. “Small diced mushrooms can be incorporated into hamburgers or meatloaf, as well.” Don't miss these clever tricks to start liking the healthy veggies you hate.
You're feeling pretty proud of yourself, strolling into work, carrying your new Bistro Bento with a lunch you packed from home — take that, crazy calorie counts at cafes! But wait — your lunchbox is filled with an 800-calorie serving of homemade mac and cheese. Yikes! While bringing lunch from home can be healthier than heading out at noon, it doesn't mean it's automatically the magic key to dropping pounds. Follow these three tips when packing lunch to ensure you lose weight.
1. Fill It With These Two Things
While a sandwich is one of the most popular choices on the bagged lunch menu, it's not necessarily the best choice for weight loss. Carbs may fill you up, but they can also make your brain foggy and your body feel heavy — which means feeling too tired for that afternoon run and an increased craving for a sugary pick-me-up later. Instead, go for fiber and protein. The fiber takes longer to digest so hunger pangs won't cause you to reach for more calories soon after lunch ends. And the protein will sustain your energy. Aim for at least 10 grams of fiber and at least 15 grams of protein.
2. Do the Math
Since weight loss is a matter of calories in vs. calories used up, it's important to count calories to make sure you're not exceeding your daily limit. Have a specific number in mind for each meal and snack so you don't mindlessly pack lunch — remember that even healthy foods can be high in calories. Depending on your daily calorie intake, this midday meal should be between 400 and 500 calories. Use a website such as Calorie King to help you add up your food, Calorie Count for recipes, or a trusted calorie-counting app to help you keep track of the rest of your meals and snacks.
3. Open Up and Smile
There's already a lot to consider: lunch needs to be healthy and filling, it needs to be low in calories, but it also has to taste good so that you want to eat it and feel satisfied when you're done. You have the best intentions when packing a baby kale salad, but if your taste buds aren't into it, your cravings will convince you to find something better. Speak to your specific desires, and find healthy ways to quench them. That may mean finding ways to lighten up your favorite comfort foods or throwing in a few squares of dark chocolate to satisfy your postmeal sweet tooth.
Here's a sample lunch that utilizes all three of these tips. In the vegan lunch shown in the photo above, the salad is packed with grapes for added fiber and topped with chickpeas and sunflower seeds for additional protein. On the top right is quinoa mixed with black beans, which offers even more fiber and protein. On the bottom right, there are fresh apple slices (more fiber) smeared with homemade mixed nut butter (more protein plus healthy fats) to satisfy dessert cravings. Here's the breakdown:
Total: 223 calories, 8.1 grams fiber, 9.5 grams protein
Side of quinoa:
1/3 cup cooked quinoa: 67 calories, 1.6 grams fiber, 2.4 grams protein
1/4 cup black beans: 55 calories, 3 grams fiber, 3.5 grams protein
Total: 122 calories, 4.6 grams fiber, 5.9 grams protein
1/4 apple: 23 calories, 1.1 grams fiber, 0.1 grams protein
1. Turmeric: Turmeric is one of the key ingredients in Thai beauty regime. It is used as a great facial cleaner. Add water to turmeric powder and mix it well to make a paste. Spread this mixture all over the face, and rub it well for around 5 minutes. This will add a glow to your skin and will give you a fresh look throughout the day. This is also a decent solution for skin inflammation and other skin issues.
Turmeric is one of the key ingredients in Thai beauty regime
2. Papaya: It is another wonderful ingredient that is used for skin brightening. All you need is 2 tablespoon of ripe papaya; mash it well with a help of a spoon until it becomes a soft paste. Apply it all over your face and leave for 10-15 minutes. Rinse it off well with cold water.
It is another wonderful ingredient that is used for skin brightening 3. Tamarind: Tamarind has properties that help in making skin bright. It is primarily used for scrubbing. Dip tamarind in water, let it soak some water. Mash the soaked tamarind and apply it on your face and body parts (optional). You can also mix yogurt with tamarind for better results.
Tamarind has properties that help in making skin bright. Photo Credit: Istock
4. Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is the most famous ingredient used by Thai women to enhance their beauty. You can also add coconut oil in your food as well. Take coconut gel or oil and rub it around your eyes and other dry regions of the body before going for shower. It will help to keep your skin hydrated throughout the day.
Coconut oil is the most famous ingredient used by Thai women 5. Fruit Juices: We all know that drinking healthy juices play a vital role while maintaining a healthy skin. By adding a lot of healthy fruit juices and water to your diet you are adding essential vitamins and minerals in your body, which will add natural glow to your face.
Healthy juices play a vital role while maintaining a healthy skin. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and make the most of these Thai beauty tips!
Big Foot Productions/ShutterstockThe diet food of the past may have been cardboard-tasting, fake-sugar-laden garbage, but today there are products that can help you slash calories, stave off hunger pangs, and keep portions reasonable without sacrificing taste. (A lot of them will help fill in nutritional gaps in your diet, too). "Even though whole foods are the foundation of a healthy diet, it's simply not practical to eat a diet that consists entirely of whole foods," says Karen Ansel, RD, author of Healing Superfoods for Anti-aging: Stay Younger, Live Longer. "The good news is that packaged foods have made a lot of progress when it comes to cleaning up their ingredient lists." We asked pros, including Ansel, for their top picks to help you lose 10 pounds and came up with one killer grocery list.
Beans are lean and pack a protein punch
Alena Brozova/ShutterstockNutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read it Before You Eat It—Taking You from Label to Table, calls these superfoods "one of the most underrated in the store." They're cheap, shelf stable, versatile, and an amazing source of two key components of any weight loss regimen: lean, plant-based protein and filling fiber. Dried beans take a little more prep work, so she likes canned beans as a pantry staple. They're pre-cooked, which means they're ready to eat with a twist of a can opener, and you can even use the protein- and carb-rich liquid they're stored in, known as aquafaba, as a vegan-friendly egg substitute. Don't miss these other non-diet foods to help you lose weight.
Whole wheat bread could boost metabolism
MSPhotographic/Shutterstock"Bread is a processed food—we don't just pick it off the tree in slices," says nutritionist Brigitte Zeitlin, RD, owner of BZ Nutrition. But it could be critical for weight loss. A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate enough whole grains to meet their daily fiber requirements lost about 100 more calories per day than those who dined on refined grains. The reason: their resting metabolic rate, the normal rate at which their bodies burn calories, was elevated. White breads have more of their nutrients, including fiber, stripped away in processing, but hearty whole grain loaves such as those from Dave's Killer Bread, Ezekiel 4:9, or Alvarado Street Bakery should be part of your weekly grocery list, says Zeitlin. She also loves sprouted grain breads, which she says "can be easier to digest for anyone with sensitivities or intolerances, while still packing that high-fiber, vitamin B-rich, mineral-dense nutrition punch."
Sparkling water fills you up
Benjamin Lozovsky/ShutterstockGood hydration is always important, but especially when you're trying to lose 10 pounds since research shows that drinking water before meals can help reduce the number of calories you'll consume. And it turns out, per other research, that the bubbles in carbonated water do an even better job of filling you up. Plenty of brands have naturally flavored bubbly versions with zero calories: Hint, Dry, Spindrift, and La Croix. Swap them for soda or use them to make a mocktail, and you'll save yourself around 150 calories per drink says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, author of The Superfood Swap.
Content continues below ad
Salmon in a pouch could aid fat loss
Keith Homan/ShutterstockAnsel is a fan of salmon (tuna is another good choice) in pouches, which she says make it "super easy to get your fish fix." "Hardly anybody eats the recommended two weekly servings of fish," Ansel says. Besides being a lean protein, which takes more work to digest than simple carbs and helps build calorie-torching muscle, fatty fish such as salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient some preliminary evidence indicates could aid fat loss.
Cocoa nibs deliver iron and fiber
Svetoslav Radkov/ShutterstockBlatner calls these crushed bits of cacao bean "Nature's chocolate chip." Because they're minimally processed, they retain all their rich chocolate flavor, as well as antioxidants and nutrients including iron and fiber (they do come from a bean, after all), without added sugar. Try adding a few to oatmeal for a healthy chocolate fix. Here's what you need to know about the health benefits of chocolate.
Probiotic foods fight bloat
Stephanie Frey/ShutterstockThere's plenty of emerging research that the gut-healthy bacteria in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and kimchi may help fight bloat and aid digestion, says Zeitlin. She likes fermented vegetables from Farmhouse Cultures, Good Culture Cottage Cheese, and SunBiotics nuts and pumpkin seed snacks. Check out this list for more foods that boost your good gut bacteria.
Unsweetened almond milk has fewer calories
kubais/ShutterstockNut milks aren't just for people with lactose intolerance. Glass for glass, almond milk has fewer calories than cow's milk, zero saturated fat, and bonus vitamin E. Taub-Dix likes to use it in sauces and smoothies to keep calories in check. Just beware of sweetened or flavored versions, which can have added sugar. You want to aim for 6 grams of sugar or less per cup of almond milk.
Content continues below ad
Cauliflower rice won't spike blood sugar
AS Food studio/ShutterstockSwapping this crucifer for white-flour products like rice and pizza crust blunts the glycemic impact of those popular carbs—meaning it won't trigger a spike in blood sugar, which can lead to weight gain—and adds fiber to fill you up, Zeitlin says. That fiber can be the secret ingredient you need to lose 10 pounds. You can buy it pre-riced in the frozen foods section, or find "flour," pizza crusts, or pre-made pizzas under the Caulipower label to save you kitchen time and calories.
Dry-roasted chickpeas offer a healthy crunch
Rugged Studio/ShutterstockWaist-friendly snacking can be tough to come by, but companies like The Good Bean toss these crunchy legumes with seasonings for awesome mixtures (they have other varieties of beans too) that are full of fiber and plant-based protein, according to nutritionist Maya Feller, RD, of Maya Feller Nutrition and a regular contributor on Good Morning America. You can eat them out of the bag or toss them on salads or into soup or stir fries. Chickpea snacks are just one of those new healthy foods that are totally worth the hype.
Tea can satisfy a sweet tooth
Natasha Breen/ShutterstockBrewed tea has plenty of health perks depending on the variety (green tea, which is rich in antioxidants called catechins, is famous for its metabolism-boosting properties) but Blatner likes dessert teas in flavors like chocolate mint and red velvet to satisfy a sweet tooth. "One of the biggest things I hear from clients is that they need something sweet after a meal," she says. "This is a way to get your chocolate fix for zero calories." Check out more of the healthiest foods you can find at the supermarket.
Pulse pasta is more nutritious and filling
Giuseppe Amagliani/ShutterstockSwapping white flour pasta for noodles made from lentils, chickpeas, or edamame packs protein and fiber into a dish that's traditionally lacking both, says Zeitlin. And because pasta alternatives are so filling as a result, it's way easier to stick to the recommended portions and avoid overeating. She likes the brands Banza and Explore Cuisine. Here are more healthy pasta alternatives to try this week.
Content continues below ad
Dehydrated fruit has no added sugar
Geshas/ShutterstockFreeze-dried fruit is great for all the same reasons as the dried variety—it lasts longer and is more durable than fresh—but unlike dried fruit, it generally has no added sugar, says Blatner. Freeze-dried fruit makes a great snack or addition to trail mix or cereal. Blatner even has a client who spikes her bottled water with a few pieces.
Popcorn has filling fiber
Byjeng/ShutterstockThis supersnack is a whole grain, which makes it a naturally a good source of fiber that can help fill you up and keep you full, says Zeitlin. Research has found that it's more satisfying a snack than potato chips. And because it's a high-volume food, you get a lot per serving—three cups, in fact. Stick to air-popped varieties to avoid extra sugar and fat. Zeitlin likes Quinn Brand for their microwave-safe bags and natural flavors like white cheddar and Vermont maple kettle corn. Be sure to check out these other weight-loss foods to help you lose weight fast.
Yogurt helps prevent weight gain
pinkomelet/ShutterstockThis dairy product ranked No. 1 in the foods inversely associated with weight gain in a Harvard study. In other words, regularly downing the creamy stuff may help you lose 10 pounds, likely due to nutrients such as protein and calcium, and also possibly gut-loving probiotics. Ansel likes her yogurt low-fat without a lot of added sugar, from brands like Siggis and Skyr. Here are more of the best fat-burning foods you can eat.
Whole seeded crackers keep you full
13Smile/ShutterstockCrackers are complex carbs, which means they take longer for your body to digest, so you stay fuller longer, and they can be a great source of vitamins, minerals, and heart-healthy unsaturated fatty acids, according to Feller. "I love to use seeded crackers as a base for hummus or cheese," she says.
Content continues below ad
Cow's milk packs in the protein
Keith Homan/ShutterstockPlant-based milks are all the rage, but don't count cows out completely. "Nothing beats it for calcium, and it's a super quick source of high-quality protein," says Ansel. Plus, new varieties on the market like Fairlife are actually higher in protein and calcium than standard milk and completely lactose-free for those with digestive issues.
Snack bars can be a smart on-the-go snack
AP/REX/Shutterstock"These can be a lifesaver and have also really come a long way in the cleaner foods department," says Zeitlin. Just make sure to stick to bars that use whole foods—like nuts and dates—in their ingredients list, have five grams of sugar or less, and contain at least three grams each of protein and fiber per bar. Brands she likes: RXbars, Kind Bars, Larabar, and Mediterra. Don't miss these 42 fast, easy tips to help you lose weight.
Hardboiled eggs are a compact protein boost
Africa Studio/ShutterstockWhen you need breakfast or a snack on the go, or a pre-dinner bite that will just take the edge off your hunger without spoiling your appetite, eggs are the answer. They're full of lean, muscle-building protein, plus their yolks have antioxidants galore. If you are as strapped for time as most Americans, don't feel bad about buying them pre-boiled—Blatner does it and she's a nutritionist. You can eat it straight up or slice it and add it to salad for a protein boost. Here are some other healthy eating tips you should know.
Pre-bagged greens or coleslaw
ATesevich/ShutterstockWashing a head of lettuce has deterred many a well-intentioned dieter from getting her daily allotment of leafy greens. Keep a bag of spinach or shredded cabbage in your crisper, and you can grab a handful at your leisure to toss into smoothies, salads, grain bowls, or as a base for lean protein like chicken or fish. Coleslaw mix is Blatner's favorite. "It makes a great Asian noodle bowl and has tons of fiber," she says.
Content continues below ad
Low-cal ice cream hits the spot
Leena Robinson/ShutterstockIn case that treat-flavored tea isn't cutting it after dinner, head to your grocer's freezer section. "Low-calorie ice creams are a huge trend right now, and they can definitely help satisfy a sweet tooth without going overboard," says Zeitlin. Her favorite RD-approved version is Halo Top, because their first three ingredients are whole foods (milk, cream, eggs). It is both low in calories and a good source of protein, which helps you satisfy a craving without overindulging. "Plus, they have so many delicious flavors to choose from," she adds, "although my favorite is still the chocolate mocha chip."