BIG Nutrition: Plant eaters vs. meat eaters


BIG Nutrition: Plant eaters vs. meat eaters

Men’s Health is not typically top of my list for nutrition news, but I was interested by a recent article that calls out the media for forcing people into one of two camps—plant eaters or meat eaters. Articles identify plant eaters as healthier and kinder to the environment than meat eaters when there is no reason that people can’t do both, eat more plants and eat meat in quantities to meet their health goals. This week, I’m covering how to get more, and more colorful vegetables, into your intake. Next week, I’ll focus on how much protein, and what types of protein, will bring gains in muscle.

Maximize health by including a variety and color of vegetables in food eaten.

Beige, Yellow Orange,
Green Purple
Cauliflower Garlic Ginger Golden beets Jicama Kohlrabi Mushrooms Onions Yellow squash Yellow peppers
Beets Orange and red peppers Radicchio Radishes Red onion Tomatoes   Asparagus Bok choy Brussels sprouts Cabbage Celery Cucumbers Green beans Greens—spinach, romaine, arugula, turnip, mustard, kale, Snow peas Swiss chard Zucchini   Purple cabbage Purple carrots Purple cauliflower Eggplant

Winter squash (e.g., butternut, acorn, spaghetti), sweet potatoes, potatoes (white, purple, red, yellow), corn, peas, and parsnips, are starchy vegetables and nutritionally are more similar to grains for their macronutrient (carb, protein, fat) than the vegetables listed above.

Here are some strategies for including more vegetables:

  • Put vegetables on the counter or in the refrigerator at eye level.
  • Include them at all three meals and snacks. For breakfast, include left over roasted veggie in eggs, add cherry tomatoes as a side with breakfast, consider veggies with hummus for a snack.
  • As a variation on bread with an egg cooked in the middle (aka, toad in a hole), try an egg cooked in a pepper ring!
  • Eat two veggies at a meal; eating two veggies puts more nutrients or make one cooked and one raw (like…sliced tomatoes, peppers).
  • Skip the cooking step! Raw veggies can be eaten anytime even at a meal. 
  • Place a plate or container of raw veggies on the table, so before having a second helping of food eat some raw veggies.
  • Wrap sandwich or taco fixings in cabbage, lettuce, chard, or kale leaves.
  • Go frozen. Having a bag of frozen broccoli on hand can save a meal!
  • Shift the proportion. For example, add peppers, onions, and tomatoes, to the beans and meat in your best chili recipe. The same goes for soup or stew—carrots, celery, bok choy, cabbage, peppers, mushrooms—add color and texture.
  • Add veggies to grains. Vegetables help flavor any grain and are a way to get in an additional vegetable for a meal.

Happy and healthful eating,

Donna G. Pertel, MEd, RD, LDN

Tuning up your nutrition before the CrossFit Open? Contact me at [email protected].

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