“Eat Your Veggies!” We’ve all heard it. We all know that eating healthier is essential, but do we know how important it is?
Studies show that eating 5- 7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day may increase productivity by up to 25%. Imagine for a minute that you could be 25% more productive - what would that do for you? for your business? for your family?
Mind and Cognitive Function. Ever get that brain fog midday? Maybe you skipped breakfast or had the “coffee or latte” breakfast? Or perhaps you had breakfast, but it was a sugary, over-processed granola bar or pastry.
Energy. You’ve been there, you worked through lunch or had a “light lunch” only to feel a slump midafternoon - maybe you drag yourself to the coffee cart or Keurig, or you pick up a coffee on the way to the car pick-up line… it might “help” for a bit, but your frustration, impatience, and overwhelm hits the minute you walk into the kitchen after dinner.
Mood. Food affects your mood. Feed your body nourishing, energizing, and life-filled foods, and you will attract a brighter, more energized mood.
Hydration. Fresh foods and water are hydrating and detoxifying. Hydrated people have better blood flow and more astute senses.
If eating more plant-forward meals can increase our productivity - let’s talk about how to add more plants.
1. Eat a veggie-heavy salad or soup before each meal - focus on hydrating and energizing vegetables, greens, and starchy veggies like potatoes, squash, or sweet potatoes, and add some beans, nuts, or seeds for a punch of protein. Use homemade dressings like this easy Tahini Blue Cheez Dressing, or mix vinegar with herbs and spices and a secret ingredient, like in this recipe: Oil Free Basil Vinaigrette. Simply dress your salad with vinegar or citrus or blend veggies like avocados or berries to increase your whole-food consumption.
2. Add a second side of veggies to your meal. It sounds simple, but how many of us double the veg when we cook? Simply fill ½ your plate with veggies - cooked or raw or a combo, add a whole starch (see #3), and then reduce the processed or animal-based foods to fit the remaining ¼-⅙ of your plate.
Tempeh and Vegetable Grain Bowl with Tahini Sauce Drizzle
3. Let the whole grains and starches energize you by eating them with other energizing foods, don’t pair your starches with inflammatory oils, dairy, and processed ingredients. Enjoy your baked potato topped with pico de gallo and avocado, whole-grain or bean pasta with a red sauce and lots of veggies, or jazz up that whole-grain pasta with hummus and veggies for a fun twist on pasta primavera. Whole grains and starches are necessary for energy and cognitive brain function. Don’t eliminate them!
4. Reduce the dairy and use whole plant alternatives. Now, hear me when I say this-find dairy alternatives that use few ingredients. - 2 ingredients unsweetened nut, soy, or oat milk can work for creamer, baking, and even mashing potatoes. So find the alternatives that work for you. And I know giving up cheese can be a challenge - there is science behind the casein in cheese that links it to morphine - give yourself grace. I’ve found that focusing on adding other ingredients in place of cheese and making new concoctions is better than incorporating 1:1 swaps. Because let’s face it, despite their efforts, plant-based cheeses aren’t a 1:1 swap and are often filled with processed ingredients. I like to get veggie pizza and add fresh avocado or an avocado cream drizzle for a creamy topping; I use tofu or cashews (or other nuts/seeds) to create a creamy alternative to ricotta, buttery sauces, and mayo.
5. Focus on familiar foods. Love sweet potatoes? Swap them into your favorite meals like sweet potato chili or sweet potato tacos. Do you love broccoli or cauliflower? Try subbing those where chicken or shrimp is used (broccoli packs quite a punch o protein too). What about chickpeas? Are they a favorite? Try these tacos: Chickpea Al Pastor Tacos.
If you are looking for ways to eat more plants and increase your productivity to achieve your personal and professional goals, start with an intentional and committed decision and take action. Baby steps move you forward; keep taking steps toward your goal to eat plant-centered and note how the foods make you feel.
Love what you’ve read so far? Check out the vault for more on plant-based eating from Kathy!
For more on leveraging plant-based eating and healthy habits, connect with Kathy on Instagram, @veginspired, or Facebook in the Plant-Based Lifestyle Support for Women Community.
Kathy A. Davis is a plant-based lifestyle and mindset coach, 3x cookbook author, and the founder of VegInspired. Kathy helps leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals leverage the power of food to achieve their personal and professional goals.
Kathy is honored and excited to be a US Happy Healthy Women Trailblazer.
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