The end of summer brings shorter days and cooler weather, and it’s not uncommon to feel a little bit sad as fall and winter approach. But if you’re looking for a quick perk-me-up, a healthy snack from your fridge might be all you need.
New research shows you can boost your mood by simply eating more fruits & vegetables.
Eat Your Fruits & Veggies!
Researchers found that happiness benefits increased incrementally for each extra daily portion of fruits and veggies, up to 8 portions a day. Within two years of eating a more fruit-and-veggie-heavy diet, participants experienced positive psychological benefits – they were happier and more satisfied with life. People who went from eating almost no fruits and vegetables to 8 daily helpings saw their life satisfaction increase to a level equal to that of going from unemployment to employment.
Boost Your Fruit & Veggie Intake
So what does a portion look like for F&V? Think of one serving of raw fruits or vegetables (one cup) as the size of a small fist or a baseball, and for dried fruit (¼ cup), a small handful or the size of a golf ball. Ideally, at every meal, at least half your plate should be made up of veggies and fruit.
It’s surprisingly easy to add more at every meal:
– Add a cup of berries to your oatmeal or cereal
– Make blueberry or banana nut pancakes
– Have a veggie-loaded omelet with spinach, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, etc.
– Top your toast with sliced avocado or fresh fruit and nut butter
– Add a handful of spinach or kale to your morning smoothie
– Stuff your sandwich with cucumbers, carrots, arugula, sprouts, etc.
– Skip the pepperoni and go for a vegetarian pizza slice
– Make your BLT a BLAT and load up with avocado and tomato
– Spruce up salads with beets, peaches, figs, strawberries, citrus, or whatever’s in season
– Dip carrots, cucumber, cauliflower, and broccoli into hummus or ranch
– Replace crackers with apple slices and have with peanut butter or cheese
– Snack on salsa or guacamole with whole grain chips
– Sub zucchini noodles (zoodles) for pasta with your favorite sauce
– Start with a salad or veggie soup first course before your entrée
– Order Asian veggie stir-fry with lean meat for takeout
– Double the veggies in your fajitas
– Try sautéed cauliflower “rice”
– Top a bowl of berries or other fruit with Greek yogurt and nuts
– Freeze pureed fruit into a homemade popsicle
– Make a fun fondue with skewered fruits and chocolate or Nutella
Stealthy & Healthy Vegetables
Not a fan of veggies or have a picky eater in the family? You can even sneak veggies into your meals and no one will be the wiser, though they will be healthier and happier!
While we all know that eating healthfully is good for long-term physical health, we don’t usually see those effects well into our later years. For those of us looking for more immediate rewards like a boost to our psychological well-being, eating more fruits and veggies is a no-brainer!
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.