Over time, all perception of food portions has gone completely out of whack! Fast food chains have super-sized everything; restaurant chains sell sub-quality foods in copious amounts to offer "value" to the customer; and even that crazy show "Man vs Food" shows off gluttony to the extreme. It's no wonder there is an ever-growing problem with obesity. Ever had a just big bowl of mac 'n cheese for dinner? Feeding your kids the Standard American Diet (SAD)? WHERE are the vegetables? (and no, French fries and ketchup don't count...) We've been influenced to think that even the lettuce and pickle on a burger is good enough for your vegetable intake. Guess what? It isn't even close to being enough. C'mon, you know it's true.
When you look at the calories one consumes from the Traditional "meat and potatoes" diet, it is easy to surpass the 2000* calorie with just one meal. But wait, it's not about counting calories each day. It's really about making the shift and adding more vegetables, full of natural fiber, vitamins and minerals, to each and every meal. It's common sense to know that vegetables are much lower in calories than meat and dairy. A big bowl of vegetables takes longer for your body to digest without spiking your blood-sugar levels and gives you so many natural benefits, much more than that bowl of cheesy pasta (which, by the way, is essentially is made from all processed ingredients, even if you do make it "from scratch.") Do you think that you are denying yourself nutrients by eating less animal protein and by-products? Take a look at why "Kale is the New Beef". ;)
In the past few months, I've made the shift in my meal preparation. From the traditional vegetables as a side-dish, they now take prominence in each meal (most of the time.) It took awhile to get to this point, but it has really made a difference. Not only do we save money by buying less meat, there are improvements in my family's overall health as a result of this simple change. Joining the CSA (community-supported agriculture) has also inspired me to try new vegetables and recipes.
For the most part, it's about being conscious of what you buy and what you eat. A good place to start is by "Eating the Rainbow" each day, getting vegetables of all colors into your belly. Have a picky eater? Make a juice or a smoothie. Puree some vegetables to add to a pasta sauce. Have dips on-hand for fun, flavorful eating. Veggies don't have to be boring!
*This is an average amount for an adult. Specific daily calorie intake is based on your gender, age, and physical activity