For the up to 75% of Americans that are chronically dehydrated (http://miami.cbslocal.com/2013/07/02/chronic-dehydration-more-common-than-you-think/), vegetablarianism can help. Eating more vegetables is a great way to get up to 20% of the 10 glasses of water recommended daily by the Institute of Medicine. Dehydration is easy to reverse by drinking more water AND increasing vegetable intake. All vegetables are high in water content , but particularly those high in water content (> 90% water) are best for helping remedy the situation. Some great examples include: baby carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, zucchini, celery, green peppers, radishes, spinach, tomatoes, and yes, iceberg lettuce (http://www2.ca.uky.edu/enri/pubs/enri129.pdf). So, eat up...or should I say...drink up?!?! ;-)
One of the hardest parts of a healthy lifestyle is figuring out to start. That's what I love about vegetablarianism. It can be a baby step or a giant leap, whether you start fron "junk food junkie" or "eating healthy most of the time." That's because vegetablarianism does not require you to give up anything; the eventual strategy is to crowd unhealthy stuff out with healthy vegetables and fruits. "Baby steppers" can start by simply adding a small amount of vegetables to their existing diet as-is. "Giant leapers" can strive for an extremely significant increase in the proportion of vegetables in their diet. Becoming a strict vegetablarian, where you eat vegetables and other healthy foods to the exclusion of unhealthy foods, would be considered a giant leap for most. What is important about this is that research has proven that the most effective way to to achieve permanent behavioral change (for example in your behaviors around eating, especially eating healthy) is to create new habits slowly and incrementally. For this, vegetablarianism fits perfectly. It's easy to add a vegetable here and there, becoming gradually more and more conscious of eating more and more vegetables. It is also psychologically easier (read: creates less stress) to create positive change (eating more vegetables) than negative change (not eating something in your current diet).
So, if you are looking for a jumpstart to making a lifestyle change, join the vegetablarian movement! And take your baby step to a healthier lifestyle!
YES! ... AND!... WHY NOT BOTH? I often get the question about raw vs cooked vegetables. The question usually goes something like this: "I hear raw is better. Is that true? Can I cook my vegetables and still be healthy?" Now, since every-body is different, my question back is often: "How do YOU like YOUR vegetables?" And, recently, I started thinking "why choose?" If you're cooking vegetables, you can always reserve some of the vegetables uncooked to serve on top of the cooked versions. In other words, why not have both?
A perfect example was tonight's dinner: sauteed tomatoes and arugula with brown rice quinoa pasta in a red wine sauce...topped with...(drum roll please)... fresh raw tomatoes and arugula (oh yeah and some "raw" red wine too ;-)) (see below)
I love to cook so, for me, vegetables cooked just the right way with just the right type and amount of seasoning can be fantastic! At the same time, as a vegetablarian, I LOVE the taste of vegetables raw and uncooked! So most of the time I DON'T choose - I have them both! (sounds like a sexy option, huh?!).
The simple fact is, depending on the vegetable, if you (and your body) like it cooked, then eat it cooked. If you like it raw, then eat it raw. The bottom line is whatever makes your vegetables taste good to you and keeps you eating lots of them consistently, do that. Because, in truth, raw vegetables are not always healthier (see http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=raw-veggies-are-healthier). So rather than try to remember which are better cooked and which are better raw or eating something a certain way ONLY because you think it is healthier, go for enjoyment AND variety and "go both ways!" Share what vegetables (and how) you enjoy both ways!
Sauteed Tomatoes and Arugula with Brown Rice Quinoa Pasta 1 lb Brown Rice Quinoa pasta 6 tomatoes, diced 1-2 onions, sliced or chopped (I love onion always use a lot) 4+ cloves garlic, chopped (I love garlic and can always add more) 3+1 tablespoons of Extra virgin olive oil 1 1/4 lb baby arugula 1/2 cup red wine 1/2 cup red wine vinegar 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper Salt and dried basil or oregano (optional)
1. Boil pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain and keep warm in colander on side. 2. Meanwhile, dice tomatoes and divide into 2/3 and reserve 1/3 to side. 2. Slice or chop onion. 3. Chop garlic (as fine or as chunky as you like). 4. In the same large pasta pot, heat 3 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. 5. Add onions and saute until translucent. 6. Add garlic and stir until fragrant. 7. Add tomatoes and sauté briskly, stirring and shaking frequently, until tomatoes begin to burst and release their juices, 5 to 8 minutes. 8. Add 1 lb of the arugula, red wine and red wine vinegar and red pepper flakes and saute again just until fragrant. (taste sauce now and alter to taste) 9. Turn heat to medium and add remaining tablespoon of oil and pasta and combine well. (If dry, you can add more oil.) 10. When serving, top with reserved diced tomatoes, arugula and basil. Add salt, dried basil or oregano and additional red pepper flakes to taste.
As a wellness coach, it is always so important for me to respond to the unique situations of my clients… So writing a blog is interesting because it requires me to try to distill key concepts that can be considered almost universal. Having said that, I have to re-emphasize to anyone reading this blog that “every-BODY is different.” One-size-fits-all rarely works when you are dealing with health and wellness. Just think about how complex are bodies are…how, from person to person, so many things that seem “universal” can vary. For instance, people walk differently, the sound of talking varies from person to person, the way our bodies react to physical situations is based on our unique genetic and biological makeup. As I like to say, “we are all perfectly imperfect.” That’s why I like the concept of vegetablarian vs vegetarian. I know many people, client included, that do not do well on vegetarian diets. On the other hand, I know few people that don’t achieve at least some benefit from a vegetablarian diet. The funny thing is I think we all know this intuitively; after all, one of the first things you are taught is to “eat your vegetables.” Mom and Dad got it right with that one! I would love to hear from you. If you are not a vegetablarian, try it for a week and see if you feel differently. Let me know! If you are a vegetablarian, share why you are!
Another observation I have made in my research and reading on fruits and vegetables and their health benefits is that they never seem to be separated. In other words, fruits and vegetables are usually talked about in the same breath when discussing the health benefits of plant-based foods. However, in practice, I usually suggest taking a "balanced" approach to fruits vs a more "generous" approach to vegetables. Why? Consider the following 3 distinctions (botanical, culinary and sugar) used to separate fruits and vegetables.
Botanical: Botanically speaking, a fruit is a seed-bearing structure that develops from the ovary of a flowering plant, whereas vegetables are all other plant parts, such as roots, leaves and stems.
Culinary: A lot of foods that are (botanically speaking) fruits, but which are savory rather than sweet, are typically considered vegetables by chefs.
Sugar: Most fruits are sweet because they contain a simple sugar called fructose, while most vegetables are less sweet because they have much less fructose. The sweetness of fruit encourages animals to eat it and thereby spread the seeds.
Simplified: if I had to pick one: fruits or vegetables, I would pick vegetables. Why? Because, using the culinary/sugar distinction (which I recommend), vegetables provide the plant food benefits without the increased sugar (which most of us need a little less of in our diets). Having said that, fruits provide an array of their own set of beneficial plant nutrients (i.e. phytochemicals) so we should always eat both fruits and vegetables...but we can moderate our fruit intake in favor of vegetables. (FYI: even the USDA MyPlate model for anyone over age 3 suggests that your vegetable intake should be 1-3 servings greater than your fruit intake daily - see http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/fruitsvegetables/howmany.html)