You might have been bribed and rewarded at the dinner table as a child — ice cream if you finish your apples, growth if you finish your beans and maybe even night vision if you eat your carrots. Many of us know the importance of fruits and vegetables, yet as a population we’re still not eating them enough. According to the 2015–2020 dietary recommendations released by Health.gov, adults should be eating 2 ½ cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit per day (as based on a 2,000 calorie diet).
For MSU dietetics senior, Darby Molloy, eating enough fruits and vegetables isn’t something she has much power over due to food allergies. “My diet is about 80 percent fruits and vegetables,” said Molloy. “I’m on a strict diet, but there is no label for how I eat.”
Her dietary restrictions inspired her to learn about the food she’s eating.
“Fruits and veggies are a carb source that aren’t high in bad types of fats or high in sugar,” said Molloy. “They’re high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The diet that dieticians, nutritionists and healthy food bloggers agree on is a plant-based diet: eating 80 percent plants, 10 percent nuts and seeds, and 10 percent whatever else. Fruits and veggies are nutrient dense, so you get the most out of what you’re eating.”
To reduce time in the kitchen, she does batch cooking for the week, buys a ½ lb of brussel sprouts, roasts them with carrots, and she’s set. In the summer, she grows her own vegetables in her garden — an effort that also saves her time and money.
Many worry a plant-based diet isn’t sustainable. Everybody’s needs and bodies are different, but for Molloy, it works.
“I think that’s something people fear too. They think, ‘Well if I eat fruits and vegetables I’ll never be full’ or they don’t think they’ll get enough protein. I feel like I have energy all the time and I’ve never had any vitamin deficiencies,” said Molloy. “And I don’t feel hungry. You have to eat a little bit more because meals aren’t as calorie dense, but I think if people are concerned about their calorie intake you don’t need to watch it as much when you’re eating plant based foods.”
Her method to keep it interesting? “I shoot for different colors. Squash is different from leafy greens and leafy greens are different from romaine lettuce that’s white,” said Molloy. “It sounds easy enough, but different colors can indicate different vitamins. If you switch it up, you’ll just about cover what you need that way.”
Molloy may not have much autonomy over her diet, but many others are choosing to put fruits and vegetables at the center of their diet as well. Such is the case for Emily Carmody, a senior at MSU majoring in human development and family studies.
Carmody looks to try new recipes, and pays especially close attention to what’s in season. “Fruits and veggies are cheaper when they’re in season, and they’re more fresh,” said Carmody. “You’ll be able to taste the difference.”
As a college student on-the-go, she gives her veggies flavor without overdoing it. “Quinoa and lime juice are my staple foods that I pair with vegetables. Apple cider vinegar and honey is good on anything like green beans, and as a salad dressing,” said Carmody.
Both Molloy and Carmody follow food bloggers on Instagram in search of new ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables into their meals. “I’m prone to read work by registered dietitians,” said Molloy. Carmody finds that those who are vegan tend to get more creative with the way they prepare their food.
Emily Reyst is a senior majoring in professional writing. Outside of writing for ing, she interns for the Broad College of Business Marketing team and the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing. She was once hit by an airborne pizza box while driving her moped. Follow her on social media for updates in real time. Twitter: @accio_avocado Instagram: emilyreyst