By: Lara Rondinelli RD, LDN, CDE
Vegetables are one of the healthiest foods in our diet. They are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber and especially great for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes because of their low calorie and carbohydrate content.
Most vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, greens, cabbage, asparagus, lettuce, and peppers contain less than 5 grams of carbohydrate per 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked.
Here are a couple scenarios of conversations I have with my patients regarding eating vegetables.
Scenario #1: “I don’t like vegetables”
Me: Based on your food records, I noticed you didn’t eat any vegetables the last few days.
Patient: I don’t like vegetables
Me: You don’t like any vegetables? There have to be some vegetables that you like. Can you think of any?
Patient: I like corn and potatoes.
Me: We put those in the carbohydrate group. How about green beans?
Patient: Yes, I can eat those.
Me: How about broccoli or cauliflower?
Patient: No way, I’m not eating that.
Me: How about zucchini or asparagus?
Patient: I’ve never had those.
It’s amazing how many people (adults and children) say they don’t like foods they’ve either never tasted or haven’t tasted in many years.
For children, it’s important to keep introducing new vegetables — just because they didn’t eat a vegetable once or twice doesn’t mean they won’t change and start eating that vegetable later.
This same rule can apply to adults. Many of us know foods that we did not like as a child, but they may become our favorite foods as an adult. Learning how to cook, season, and offer a variety of veggies is important. Check out my tips below for how you can enjoy vegetables in your diet.
Scenario #2: “I like vegetables, but when I buy them they go bad.”
Me: Based on your food records, I notice you didn’t eat any vegetables the last few days.
Patient: I know. I need to eat more vegetables, but when I buy them I forget about them, and then they go bad and I throw them away.
Me: What did you eat yesterday?
Patient: I skipped breakfast, for lunch I had a low-fat ham sub sandwich with baked chips, and for dinner, I had a turkey burger on the grill and some frozen French fries that I baked in the oven. My snacks were sugar-free cookies and a handful of pretzels.
Many people are choosing a lot of processed or packaged foods versus opting for fresh foods such as fruit and vegetables. People may also be eating low-fat and low-calorie, but their diet may be composed of carbohydrates and protein, and lacking in vegetables and other food groups. The solution begins with buying more veggies and finding realistic ways to work them into your diet. See tips below.
Tips for Eating More Veggies:
- Not sure how to cook vegetables? Start with frozen vegetables that you can cook in minutes in the microwave. Also, try roasting veggies.
- Have a chicken or shrimp stir-fry for dinner and double the number of your favorite veggies such as pea pods, broccoli, red peppers, or zucchini.
- Instead of crackers or pretzels for a snack, try some veggies and hummus or celery with peanut butter.
- Try serving chicken salad stuffed in a tomato or on cucumber slices.
- Try a variety of salads such as green bean salad, broccoli salad, or a tomato, feta salad.
- Grill vegetables along with your other summer favorites.
- Put a package of frozen, chopped spinach (thawed and drained) into your egg casserole.
- Order a side salad in place of the chips or French fries.
- Buy seasonal vegetables and you’ll taste them at their best. Tomatoes, butternut squash, asparagus, and zucchini are good ones.
- For a quick dinner put veggies, such as green beans or asparagus, on the bottom of an aluminum foil packet, top with salmon along with some herbs, seal packet, and bake or grill.
- Add extra veggies to your sandwich or any homemade soup recipe.
Updated 7/18 by dLife Editors.