How to Get More Vegetables into Your Diet

Do you fall short of the recommended 5 daily servings? Here are easy tips to help you do better.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
5-minute read
Episode #65

I know you probably get tired of hearing me tell you to eat more vegetables. But the truth is that most people—despite their best intentions—don’t come anywhere close to the recommended five servings of vegetables every day. The average teenager eats fewer than two servings of vegetables per day—and one of them is usually French fries. Adults do a little bit better, but not much.

If you’ve been listening to the show for any length of time, you know all of the fantastic things that vegetables have to offer. Although they usually contribute only a small percentage of your daily calories, they are where the lion’s share of the nutrients are—particularly antioxidants and lots of other cancer-fighting, anti-aging, and generally good-for-you compounds.

If you’re only getting a couple of servings of vegetables a day, you’re really missing out on a lot of good stuff. I know you mean to do better! So, I’m going to give you some practical tips that can help you get more vegetables into every day.

You Need 5 Servings of Vegetables a Day

Five servings of vegetables every day may seem like a tall order. Keep in mind that just a half cup of most cooked vegetables or a whole cup of raw leafy greens counts as a serving. A half cup is about the size of an ice-cream scoop. A whole cup is about the size of a baseball. So a good-sized salad can easily count as one and a half or two servings.

It’s really not that hard to work in five servings—but it might take a few tweaks to your usual habits. Let me walk you through a typical day and show you just how easy it can be.

How to Get Vegetables in at Breakfast

Vegetables for breakfast? You bet! An omelet stuffed with peppers and onions, asparagus, or any other vegetable is a delicious way to enjoy vegetables for breakfast.

Even simpler, top some scrambled eggs with a half cup of salsa. Anyone who has ever lived in the Southwest knows that salsa and eggs taste great together. If you don’t like spicy things in the morning, choose a mild salsa. If you’re pressed for time, roll the whole thing into a tortilla and take it with you.

See? You’re already a fifth of the way to your goal and it’s only 8 a.m.!

How to Get More Vegetables in at Lunch

Please don’t point to that lone leaf of lettuce or that sliver of tomato on your sandwich and try to pass that off as a serving of vegetables. If you’re having a sandwich, stack it up with a good half inch or so of lettuce—or, even better, spinach leaves. That’s a serving. Or, get out of the sandwich rut and have a salad or a bowl of vegetable soup, instead. 

Please don’t point to that lone leaf of lettuce or that sliver of tomato on your sandwich and try to pass that off as a serving of vegetables.


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.