When left to our own devices, people prefer fruit over vegetables.
I used to think the reason for this phenomenon was due to fruit’s inherent sweetness, which we’re simply hardwired to enjoy. But there may be more to the story.
After reading the fascinating book Mindless Eating, I’m realizing there’s another reason we prefer the almighty fruit. In a word…convenience.
Think about it. Most fruit comes ready to eat. In some cases we have to wash or peel it first, but that’s nothing compared to the peeling, chopping, and cooking it takes to prepare most vegetables.
Why is this such a big deal?
It is very well documented that the more hassle something is to eat, the less of it we eat. That’s why packaged and processed convenience food makes up the bulk of our North American calories — even when we know better. But studies show this is even true for universally tempting foods like candy, chocolate, and ice cream. One thing is for sure: nobody is exempt from the power of convenience.
But what about fruit and vegetables? Aren’t they both healthy? The answer is yes. And no.
From a nutrient density standpoint, vegetables are far superior to fruits. But because they’re all lumped into the same food group (7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables), we tend to think of them as equal. In my opinion, they are not.
In order to prioritize the nutritionally-superior vegetables, I train my clients (and myself!) to think about veggies as the priority and fruit as the treat. This simple mindset shift goes a long way towards upping the nutrient density of your diet.
Vegetables are the nutrient-density kings of our food world, yet they can be inconvenient to eat.
Ask yourself this on a regular basis. How can I make it more convenient to eat veggies? This question has led to all kinds of creative solutions at my house.
- I keep a (see-through) veggie tray in my fridge at all times. When I notice it getting low, I start peeling and chopping.
- I set aside time to each week batch cook our favourite side dishes (e.g. creamy fennel coleslaw with carrots and apple, Brussels sprout coleslaw, kale chips)
- I plan meal exchanges or cooking dates with my friends. Not only do we each go home with great food, we get to catch up in the process.
So instead of succumbing to the fact that fruit is easier and more convenient to eat, why not ask your brain to come up with creative ways to start consuming more veggies. I’d love to hear what you come up with in the comments below.
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My husband and I have always done menu planning weekly. It took a visit to my daughter in law’s to realize we only plan the meat part. We were winging the “sides” every meal. We still ate 2 veggies every meal but it didn’t always seem easy.
I also batch cook spaghetti squash or Cauli rice which helps.
Carolyn Coffin says
Give batch cooking your sides a try. It sounds like you already do to some extent with the spaghetti squash and cauli rice, but I find it really helps to have some other veggie dishes prepared in advance too. Let me know how it goes! 🙂