Well, I plan this to be my most boring article to date, because I’m going to talk about the wonders of vegetables! Even the word sounds dull…I’m not going to tell you anything groundbreaking, except that they are an essential part of our diet and we need to eat more of them especially when we are trying to lose weight and improve our health!
But wait, you know that already because you know everything! So why aren’t you including them in 90% of your meals? Why aren’t you making them a major event on your dinner plate and why aren’t you getting a wide range of them in your diet?
I don’t blame you! In our society, vegetables are a chore. I put it down to the way they are presented and the way our parents made us eat them in a reward type of way, which was “If you eat your vegetables you can have some ice cream for pudding”. It’s not surprising that most people think vegetables are expensive, boring, not great tasting, cause bloating and go off easily. Here are some suggestions to get around these common complaints:
Frozen isn’t just a Disney classic…
Fresh vegetables can be expensive and go off quickly, especially if you opt for organic types (which I’ll discuss in a later blog post), or pre-cut packets of vegetables. If you buy frozen vegetables (a cheaper alternative) they tend to be fresher as they are cut and frozen straight away. Studies suggest that frozen vegetables may have more nutrients in them than their fresh counterparts (Danesi, F., Bordoni, A. 2008). Frozen vegetables are farmed and frozen, unlike fresh which tend to be cut, sprayed and then transported many miles to supermarkets from all over the world, so how ‘fresh’ are they really? Fresh vegetables spoil quickly so need to be eaten within a few days of purchasing, which means you have to buy more every 3-4 days, adding to the expense.
There is always a vegetable that we like and don’t like, but they can be disguised in foods. Vegetables can be served in millions of way from soups, stir fries, roasts, casseroles to simply steamed by adding them to pot cooking you still get the benefits but sometimes the taste can be masked.
Sometimes eating vegetables in large quantities can cause bloating, but then again, so can large quantities of any food. Some people might be sensitive to certain vegetables, particularly if eaten raw and excessive amounts of fibrous greens eaten can have the same effect. Also, any over eating can irritate your digestive tract and it may not always be vegetables that are the culprit.
Why I recommend vegetables for all of my weight loss clients
1. Speed and convenience: supermarkets are full of good quality veg that can be cooked within 2-3 minutes in the microwave
2. Gut friendly: the resistant starch promotes beneficial gut bacteria, which helps digestion
3. Low glycemic index: a slow release energy source that keeps you fuller for longer
4. Filling: They are a great way to bulk out any meal to increase its volume, whether its spinach and eggs for breakfast, vegetable soups for lunch, crudités with humous for a snack, or steamed and loaded up on your plate for your evening meal
6. Nutritious: They are high in micro nutrients, which are vitamins and minerals we can’t always supplement
7. Versatile: Pretty much anything can be added to them to make a tasty meal and they are an ideal low calorie substitute for starchy carbohydrates like rice, pasta and potatoes
The Science Bit
In a study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, the weight and lipid profiles were tested in a group of individuals who were put on a 21 day food plan and told they could consume unlimited fresh and frozen vegetables and fruit (veg intake was double that of fruit). The outcomes showed the whole group lost weight and improved their blood lipid levels (J Chiropr Med. 2013 Mar;12).
Will I lose weight and become healthier if I eat more vegetables?
Yes you potentially will if you are still in a negative energy balance. Vegetables are a great low calorie way to give you many essential vitamins and minerals, to fill you up and to accompany protein. If you use them in adequate amounts to control your hunger and you are active, you should see weight loss.
To show you just how versatile vegetables are, I’m going to share with you one of my favourite recipes. Enjoy!
Recipe: Cauliflower Mash
800g Cauliflower or a (Large Head 6-7” dia)
1 Chicken Stock Cube
1/2 tsp Vegetable Bouillon
2 tbsp low fat cream cheese
Salt and pepper
Cook cauliflower till soft in either a steamer or microwave and then place in blender, add stock cube, vegetable bouillon and cream cheese and and add any liquid from the cooking of the cauliflower. Blend till smooth and creamy like mash!
129 Kcals per portion
- J Food Sci. 2008 Aug;73(6):H109-12. Effect of home freezing and Italian style of cooking on antioxidant activity of edible vegetables. Danesi F1, Bordoni A.Danesi, F., Bordoni, A. 2008
- J Chiropr Med. 2013 Mar;12(1):30-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jcm.2012.11.004. Changes in weight loss and lipid profiles after a dietary purification program: a prospective case series. Callahan E1.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23997722