Susan J. Epstein, MS, MEd, is the Program Coordinator at the Jacobs Neurological Institute. In her new book The Life Program For MS: Lifestyle, Independence, Fitness, and Energy, she addresses the limitations imposed by Multiple Sclerosis which results in patients becoming sedentary, gaining excess weight and developing poor eating and exercise habits. Epstein provides a user-friendly teaching tool that helps sufferers to incorporate new behaviors into their daily routines. In the excerpt below Epstein turns her gaze towards the goal of incorporating fruits and vegetables in a healthy diet.
In the year 2000, the goal for daily fruit and vegetable intake for the population was “Strive for Five,” which was later updated to include 9 servings of fruits and vegetables when the revised food pyramid was released in 2005. Regardless, the goal is to increase your overall intake of fruit and vegetables, whether you aim for 5 or 9 servings per day.
The old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” holds more truth than we once realized. As it turns out, the color of the apple plays an important role in helping to protect against diseases.
The biological compounds that produce the rich color of fruits and vegetables also act as health-promoting compounds. Colorful foods not only contain loads of vitamins and minerals but also are rich in antioxidants that may help prevent cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, unhealthy blood sugar levels, and immunological disorders. Red and purple produce contain lycopene, a compound that helps protect against heart disease and cancer.
Try some or all of the following strategies for increasing your fruit and vegetable intake. Remember, fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables all count.
- -Drink a frozen fruit smoothie for breakfast
- -Keep a vegetable platter on hand
- -Add vegetables and legumes to favorite soups
- -Add fresh fruit as a topping to cereal and yogurt
- -Opt for an all vegetable lunch
- -Top salads with legumes
- -Choose a rainbow of colorful produce
If necessary you can use your Reinforcement Record to help you incorporate behaviors that increase your fruit and vegetable intake. For some people eating fruits and vegetables is not the problem, but putting them in their environment is. So the steps to reaching your goal would focus on environmental design and include:
- 1) Stocking up on baked potatoes and frozen spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts or any other favorites.
- 2) Keeping frozen berries, peaches, and cherries on hand to mix with your favorite non-fat yogurt.