5 Ways to Get More Vegetables Into Your Diet

I was texting with my buddy Tom recently and we got on the conversation about what kinds of things he likes reading when it comes to training and fitness. Tom is an early 40 something guy who likes to train hard, feel good, and not sacrifice every waking minute of his life to do it. I expected that we’d talk about the benefit of using the trap bar over conventional deadlifts, or why Planet Fitness has so many fucking treadmills, but then he sent this and it really surprised me:

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That really made me think. For a few days even. Why do we, the people in this industry, think that everyone is a machine and will just follow directions when it comes to eating and training, when none of us can even follow directions to put together a fucking desk from Ikea?

The fact is, food is meant to be enjoyed. It’s why we share meals and drinks with family and friends, get popcorn at the movies, or have ice cream after a day at the beach. That doesn’t mean that it’s all Cinnabuns and Dr. Pepper though, and, for the most part, following Dan John’s advice is pretty foolproof:

“Honestly, seriously, you don’t know what to do about food? Here is an idea: Eat like an
adult. Stop eating fast food, stop eating kid’s cereal, knock it off with all the sweets and
comfort foods whenever your favorite show is not on when you want it on, ease up on
the snacking and— don’t act like you don’t know this— eat vegetables and fruits more.
Really, how difficult is this? Stop with the whining. Stop with the excuses. Act like an
adult and stop eating like a television commercial. Grow up.”

Eat like an adult. Eat more fruits and vegetables and less garbage. I go with the 90% rule. If you’re eating the right things in the right quantities 9 out of 10 times, you’re probably going to be at a pretty healthy bodyfat percentage. This takes discipline, which I love the definition Jim Wendler gives:

“Discipline is doing what you don’t want to do when you don’t want to do it.”

I use that with my high school wrestlers all the time. But I digress.

So we know eating like an adult is the long term solution, but how the hell do we get a decent amount of vegetables in every day when there’s so much more gooey, chocolatey, awesomeness in the world? I could go Nike on you and say, “Just do it,” but Tom’s texts above really made me think-how can we take action so that we do the right stuff more often?

I came up with 5 actionable, easy to implement ways to get more vegetables in your diet. The more vegetables you eat, the less likely you’ll be to overeat other stuff that makes our brain happy, and it’ll keep us fueled up and energized as an added bonus.

  1. Make a smoothie each day and put spinach or kale in it. (You won’t taste it) Both are loaded with vitamins and minerals, and if you throw that in with some berries, almond or coconut milk, protein powder, and some coconut oil, you have a whole lot of good tasting, nutritious stuff to drink on the car ride to work. I tend to make it the night before and throw it in the fridge so I don’t have to hear a Ninja blender at 4:30 am.
  2. Pack a big salad for lunch. If you get a big bag of mixed greens, you’re going to get lettuce, spinach, kale, and swiss chard, then throw some cherry tomatoes (no need to cut them!), yellow, orange, and red peppers (you should cut these-cut one each on Sunday while the Pats are on). A little feta sprinkled in and some grilled chicken or ground turkey and you’re good to go for lunch for several days.
  3. Buy bags of vegetables that just need to go in the microwave so they are easily added to dinner. Get whatever veggies you like, they’re all good for you. Just don’t get ones with the added butter/sauce stuff. Add your own seasonings and save yourself from the chemical shit storm.
  4. Make a side salad for dinner if you didn’t have one for lunch. Make a giant one and serve out of it for a few nights.
  5. If you eat eggs in the morning, buy some pre-cut vegetables that you’d want in your omelet. Then make the omelet.

I know I said earlier that directions of “just eat less,” only works for a bit, and then it doesn’t. Or maybe it doesn’t at all. These aren’t directions, these are actionable steps that are relatively simple to implement.

I personally shoot for eating 8 different vegetables each day, on advice from the aforementioned Dan John. That’s really hard. By adding in a side salad at dinner a few nights each week, and eating a salad for lunch on the other days, it’s way easier. And it becomes routine. Just like eating pop tarts for breakfast can become routine. Either way, it’s routine, so figure out what you like and make the healthier one your routine.

Just take action, and don’t beat yourself up if you eat nachos while Tom Brady rains havoc down on the NFL. Just don’t make pizza rolls and donuts staples in your diet, either. Think 90%, routines, and strategize how to utilize both.

 

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