By Crystal Petrello

“If you’re not going to finish your dinner, at least finish your vegetables.” That was possibly the first and simplest dietary advice your parents ever gave you. But as we matured into responsible adults (an ongoing process), we started trusting the health advice of others who didn’t already have the inherent trust and respect we had for our parents. We began to try different diets. Deep down, we knew what needed to be done to stop the weight teeter-totter for good; but we also knew that choice would begin the battle of wills where it feels like that second helping of, fill in the blank, is the greatest experience in the world. Wouldn’t it be nice to stop the head games and still be satisfied after a meal? Research has shown that eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains while consuming less animal products encourages these goals due to its fiber, vitamins, mineral and disease-protecting phytochemicals.

When I made the goal to increase my whole grain, fruits and vegetables, I saw that meat was getting pushed off my plate but I was still getting plenty of protein. My skin looked great, I had more energy and I dropped a pants size. Looking at my food diary, I realized I was eating less fat and sodium. It made sense since animal products are laden with sodium, fat and cholesterol. No matter how lean the meat is, it will always have these calorie-dense and disease-contributing elements. However, you can eat plant-based protein (whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes/beans) until your heart is content and lower your cholesterol and feel full on fewer calories.

Take a look at how eating more plant-based foods can help aid with various health concerns:

Weight loss: Feel full on fewer calories. The fiber, vitamins, and minerals that fruits, vegetables, and whole grains offer us are essential to weight loss. A multivitamin is not going to make the cut when it comes to fiber-filled foods that are packed with nutrients. Fiber is shown to slow down the passage of food through the stomach and gastrointestinal tract. This pace of movement makes it easier to eat fewer calories and feel full.

Diabetes and heart disease: Fiber acts like a scrub brush in your body. It aids in removing all the plaque and unhealthful debris in our blood to lower cholesterol.

Cancer: Increasing fruits, vegetables and whole grains in the diet has been linked with decreased cancer risk of many different cancers for various reasons. Overall 35-60 percent of cancers can be linked to our diet. Visit the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine website for more detailed information, pcrm.org.

Drink some delicious fruit-infused water while you load up on fresh fruits and vegetables.

Pineapple Bubbly

  • 3 mint leaves, washed and torn
  • 1 slice of fresh pineapple
  • Sparkling water

Place mint and pineapple slice in a champagne glass. Add sparkling water. Bubbles will continue to form from the reaction of the natural sugar in the fruit with the carbon dioxide in the sparkling water.

Crystal Petrello Crystal Petrello, MS, RD, LD completed her bachelor’s degree at Ohio State University while she served in the Air National Guard. She earned her master’s degree in community nutrition and health at Ohio University. Petrello owns the Las Vegas-based dietary consulting firm Crystal Clear Wellness & Nutrition and PartyRight Life, partyrightlife.com. She has also co-authored the recently released weight loss book “But I’m Hungry!”

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