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First Mom, Now the Government: "Eat Your Veggies!"

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Updated March 11, 2014

Cornucopia

Lose weight and improve your health with produce.

© [2008] Jupiterimages Corporation

One of the most important ways you can help your family to follow the new food guidelines more closely is to incorporate plenty of fruits and vegetables into your meals.

According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we need to eat about four-and-a-half cups of produce a day. Of course, researchers have found that we tend to eat less than that, so we need to make a conscious effort to eat more.

The four-and-a-half cup goal is based on the average 2,000 calorie diet. So, keep in mind, if you're trying to cut calories to lose weight, then you'll eat a little less and vice versa if you need to take in more calories. According to the new MyPyramid guidelines, this would mean:

    Calorie level of 1,600 = 1.5 cups fruit and 2 cups of veggies
    Calorie level of 1,800 = 1.5 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of veggies
    Calorie level of 2,000 = 2 cups of fruits and 2.5 cups of veggies

There are some easy ways to sneak more veggies into your family's diet: piling more onto your sandwiches; including fresh or frozen veggies in macaroni and cheese or other pasta dishes; eating pre-sliced mixed veggies as a snack; substituting carrots sticks or cucumber slices for potato chips; and eating a large salad before or with meals.

Fruits can easily be incorporated into breakfast by adding them to your cereal or topping your pancakes or waffles. Smoothies are a quick, easy and highly nutritious way to get in at least one or more servings of fruit. The weekend is a great time to try out new breakfast recipes, such as these recipes that include fruit.

Fruit also makes a great dessert; it provides that "sweet tooth fix" without all the extra fat and calories of typical desserts like cake or pie. (Check out low-fat dessert recipes using fruit.) Try microwaving an apple with a little cinnamon or topping a melon half with whipped topping or low-fat frozen yogurt.

It's important to have healthy snacks throughout the day and fruit is just about the perfect healthy snack: it is diet-friendly, portable, filling, and delicious! Keep some by the door to grab on your way out or stash it in your fridge or desk at work. And don't forget to always add a piece to your kids lunch bags!

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