I have often speculated that eating fruits and vegetables is a more common practice for women just purely through nonscientific observation. Some new and interesting research has surfaced in the August 13, 2012 issue of Appetite. The study presents some theories as to why men are less likely to eat fruits and vegetables. According to the study, the Theory of Planned Behavior offers some explanation for the gender difference in fruit and vegetable consumption. This theory looks at the link between people’s beliefs and their behaviors. This study looked at 3 beliefs that should motivate people to eat nutritious food including their attitudes toward fruit and vegetables, feeling of control over their diet, and awareness that other people want them to improve their diet. The data was retrieved from the National Cancer Institute’s Food Attitudes and Behavior survey conducted in 2007. Male participants in the survey did not all answer favorably about the value of eating fruits and vegetables and many of them also claimed to have less control over their fruit and vegetable consumption compared to women.
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The truth of the matter is that regardless of gender, it does take some planning and deliberate behaviors to incorporate fruit and vegetables into the diet. There is also documented research to support that increased fruit and vegetable consumption reduces risk for cancer and other chronic diseases. Both genders benefit from incorporating more fruit and vegetables in their diets.
Here are some suggestions for EVERYONE to increase fruit and vegetable intake:
- Have an omelet for breakfast using fresh vegetables such as peppers, spinach, broccoli, and tomatoes for fillers.
- Top a plan bowl of oatmeal or other cereal with fruit such as bananas, blueberries, strawberries, or peaches.
- Fruit and yogurt makes a great snack or light meal
- Prepare a fruit salad at the beginning of the week and use it for a side dish or snack throughout the week.
- Cut vegetables needed for snacks and recipes ahead of time instead of the day they are needed. If purchasing pre-cut vegetables for convenience improves consumption then the benefit outweighs the cost!
- Keep whole pieces of portable fruit on hand such as bananas, apples, grapes, and oranges for easy grab and go options.
- Buy ready-to eat lettuce or spinach for quick salad preparation or a sandwich topper. Choose dark leafy greens for the best nutritional value. Add diced tomatoes, peppers, and shredded carrots for color and cancer fighting phytochemicals.
- A stir-fry dish is a great way to keep meat to a minimum and include a variety of vegetables. It also reheats well for lunch or dinner the following day.
- When having pizza either homemade or purchased, opt for vegetable toppings.
- Order a side salad and a vegetable side dish such as broccoli, green beans, or asparagus to accompany your protein choice when eating out.
- Whole baby carrots are both portable and versatile for dips such as low-fat ranch, hummus, or other bean dip.
- Baked whole grain tortilla chips and fresh tomato salsa make a healthy snack while watching a movie.
Start small and eventually eating more fruit and vegetables will become a habit!
|Blog Author: Kimberly Petersen, RD, LDN|