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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Breaking Down Barriers

You may have heard that a few days ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report stating that just 12.4 percent of men and 16.6 percent of women in the U.S. meet the recommended nutrition and exercise standards of:
1) eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily and
2) engaging in moderately intense exercise for at least 30 minutes five days per week (or vigorous exercise for at least 20 minutes three days per week).

Since this is the Diet Dish so I’d like to focus on the fruit and veggie numbers (visit the Fitness Fixer for some great exercise tips).

Now, the news that most of us are flunking produce 101 probably isn’t surprising; we’ve been hearing reports like this for years. But my question to you today is, “What will help you do better?” I’ve worked one-on-one with clients for over 10 years and many of them have been successful at working up to and maintaining an intake of 5+ fruits and veggies per day. And I mentioned in a recent post that even when I’m traveling, I almost never (and I mean never) miss out on my 5 a Day.

Here are some tips that help me and some of my clients make the grade:

Goal: 2 fruit servings per day. Tips:
-Drink a small glass of 100% juice at breakfast. Mix it up by buying a different type each week.
-Keep dried apricots, figs, raisins, plums, etc. in your desk drawer or purse. Reach for them as a mid-morning or afternoon snack.
-Buy mini fruit cups of fruits canned in natural juice vs. syrup such as pineapple in pineapple juice. Just pop the top and enjoy – no washing, chopping, etc. required.
-Make a smoothie made with 1 cup of frozen blueberries mixed with 1 cup vanilla soy milk or skim milk and a few drops of vanilla extract.
-Incorporate fruit into your dessert. Melt dark chocolate chips and dip in cut fruit or berries, layer low fat pudding with fruit and slivered almonds, dip bananas into yogurt, roll in a combo of chopped nuts, chocolate shavings and oats, wrap in wax paper and freeze.

Goal: 3 veggie servings per day. Tips:
-Add chopped veggies to everything. Add shredded or chopped carrots, onions, peppers, etc. to tuna or chicken salad, replace half of the pasta or rice you’d normally use with chopped veggies, add veggies to pitas, wraps, burritos, tacos, pizza, etc.
-Buy ready-to-eat salad mixes, toss with light vinaigrette and enjoy before your dinner entrée, or make salad into a meal by topping with lean protein and a starchy vegetable like peas or corn.
-Serve cut veggies with hummus, salsa or bean dip before dinner or munch on them while you’re cooking.
-Buy a steamer and cover half your plate with steamed veggies each night at dinner (you can add fresh herbs to the water to infuse flavor).
-Heat frozen veggies in the microwave, sprinkle with a salt-free seasoning mix or toss with pesto or tapenade for flavor.
-Have a broth based veggie soup (the kind without pasta or rice) before dinner or with your meal.
-Pick up some dried veggies to eat as a snack.

What do you think? Are you one of the 87.6 percent of men or 83.4 percent of women who doesn’t meet the minimum each day? If so, what hold you back? Would any of the above suggestions help you? Please share your thoughts!
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About the Author


Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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