Your mother told you to eat your veggies. As usual, she was right.
Researchers discovered that people who switched from eating almost no fruit and vegetables to eating eight servings a day felt an increase in life satisfaction similar to how an unemployed person feels after finding a job.
Yippee! I’ll take some of that!
More than 12,000 adults participated in this study and kept food diaries answering questions about their lives and their mental and emotional health. Those that increased their fruit and vegetable portions reported increased happiness within two years of the changes to their diets.
“Eating fruit and vegetables apparently boosts our happiness far more quickly than it improves human health,” study co-author Redzo Mujcic, a health economics research fellow at the University of Queensland in Australia, said in a statement.
The new findings may help doctors convince people to eat more fruits and vegetables, she added. “There is a psychological payoff now from fruit and vegetables, not just a lower health risk decades later,” he said.
Want to get on the happiness train? Here are six easy ways, according to Heather Mangieri, a nutrition consultant and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
#1 Start First Thing in the Morning
Start eating fruits and veggies at breakfast, Mangieri suggests. This is a recommendation I happen to follow already. Super simple. Just toss some frozen blueberries or diced bananas on top of your cereal or add to yogurt. Or add veggies to an omelet.
You can also use fruit to make a smoothie. Mangieri recommends using yogurt with no added sugar. “We have this heightened sense of sweetness just from overdoing it on sugars,” Mangieri says. We should try to get back to basics and let fruit be sweet enough for our taste buds, she adds.
#2 Keep Fruit and Veggies in Sight
Make fruits and vegetables visible to encourage everyone in your family, including yourself, to eat them, Mangieri says. Keep a fruit bowl in your kitchen. Put carrot sticks, snap peas, and celery in the refrigerator where you can see them along with some hummus for dipping. Yum!
#3 Frozen is Fine
Frozen vegetables, such as peas, broccoli, and carrots, are a great way to make sure you always have vegetables in the house, Mangieri says. They are easy to prepare and keep for a long time. Mangieri recommends steaming the vegetables and adding them to casserole dishes.
Frozen vegetables are usually just as nutritious as fresh ones , according to Keri Gans, who is a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
No measuring involved. The new USDA guidelines recommend filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables.
Center your meals on what vegetables you’ll eat and then think of what grains and protein to add, Mangieri suggests. Make fruits and veggies a focal point and you’ll have an easy time meeting the dietary recommendations.
#5 Add Fruit to Desserts
Let’s face it, we’re all going to indulge in some ice cream or cake sometimes. Of course, it pays to remember portion control when it comes to your sweets. But if you’re going to treat yourself, why not add some fresh berries on top?
“Fruits are nature’s natural candy,” Mangieri says. She recommends pureeing berries and adding them as a sauce to desserts.
So there you go! No time like the present to eat a little happiness. Grab a piece of fruit right now and be on your way to a more joyful day!
Images, in order of appearance, courtesy of Suat Eman, photostock, and mrsiraphol at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.