The average Filipino eats less veggies and more meat products. In fact, we are generally one of Asia’s unhealthiest countries, thanks to our nation’s mostly sedentary lifestyle, Internet addiction and limited access to healthy food.
It’s scary to think about, isn’t it? Surely we don’t want to be just a figure in these statistics. We want to make sure that our diets are at par with the quality of life we want to live: a healthy one, where our bodies are at their prime, optimal levels.
The easiest way to create a balance in your diet is to consume more leafy greens on a daily basis. Green vegetables and produce are the most accessible kind of superfoods that our bodies need, giving us the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients our bodies need. They have more nutrition per calorie than any other food, and are an excellent source of calcium (for bone health), magnesium (for nerve and muscle function), iron (for blood health) and potassium (heart and muscle function).
Eat greens during breakfast.
Normally we might conclude that breakfast isn’t a veggie-rich meal. (Hello, tapsilog, champorado, etc.) But eating our greens in the morning sets the stage for nutrient absorption! That means by loading up on our vitamin A, C, E and B, we prep our bodies to take in and use the nutrients in our food for the day. Some ideas might be including a cup of spinach with your eggs and toast. Or have a Pinoy ensalada of soft-boiled eggs, fresh tomatoes, canned tuna and lightly blanched kangkong, seasoned with a simple vinegar, salt & pepper dressing. Or mix up a smoothie with two cups of dark greens, two of a sweet fruit, and your liquid of choice.
Eat greens during lunch.
Opt to eat twice as many greens as your rice and viand. An easy way to do this is to divide your plate into a half and two-fourths: The half of the plate will be your portion of greens, while the other two quarters for for your carbs and protein. Try going for complex carbs, too: brown rice instead of white; pasta or couscous. Once a week, strive to replace your protein with a meat-free choice, like tofu or beans. Drink lots of water, too, especially if you’re getting lunch on the go regularly (or eating out).
Eat greens during dinner.
Dinner, in general, shouldn’t be too heavy a meal. But don’t eat too little that you’ll starve. A good way to get your greens up during the last meal of the day is to eat a large salad prior to your main course, or to eat your veggies in a soup or broth. For variety, try eating a broth-based veggie & meat dish like sinigang or nilaga on Monday, a big salad and some rotisserie chicken (bought ready-to-eat), a hearty veggie soup on Wednesday, a mostly-veggie pita or wrap on Thursday, and another round of broth-based veggie & meat soup on Friday. When it comes to dinner, be consistent. Going to bed hungry will only create a vicious cycle of you want to snack of binge, especially during late nights in front of Netflix. (Admit it!)
The best way to ensure you take these tips to action is to plan your weekly menu so that you can do your grocery shopping with your veggies in mind. Start by creating a list on Evernote (or whatever you use for notes) and compiling easy recipes for you to try. Keep things simple and compute for a total of 35 cups of veggies for you to consume the entire week (approximately 6-8 kilos of it! Yup, that’s the truth).