Learning to listen to your body

Your body is always looking for specific nutrients and may not be getting them in nutrient-poor processed foods, anything marked low fat or low carb that is now sold to us in the supermarkets and everywhere we go.

So you eat and you eat and you eat...but your body may still not be getting what it needs. It's still looking for bio-available nutrients that are readily available in fruits and vegetable but are continuously destroyed when heated or processed. Learning to listen to your body will be a skill you develop as you get accustomed to increasing raw, living foods such as greens and fruits.

This Is Nothing I Have Not Heard Before, What Will Make It Different This Time?

One thing I hear over and over is that people know a lot of this stuff but have a hard time following through and putting it into practice. What I have observed is that people have developed an all or nothing mentality when it comes to eating healthily. Perhaps it is a lack of motivation or that there are too many conflicting theories about nutrition, diets as well conflicting lifestyles that leave most people with no time to prepare elaborate, healthy meals.

Perhaps we can start by going through a few basic terms that may help us debunk this mystery about healthy-eating and how to make it as smooth as possible.

         Dead Food-lacking in enzymes, bioavailable vitamins, amino acids and minerals

Why should you choose fruits & vegetables?

v   Excellent source of fiber

v   Rich in vitamins and minerals including folate, potassium, vitamins A and C

v   Low in calories and fat-free -Except for avocados which are a good source of Healthy Fat

v   Provide a food source of water; fruits and vegetables are made up of more than 50% water

v   Abundant in phytochemicals and antioxidants

v   Most are low on the glycemic index

v   High consumption helps reduce risk of various diseases such as cancer, obesity, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, asthma, macular degeneration and diverticulosis

v    Increasing fruit and vegetable intake decreases risk of unhealthy weight gain


Healing foods- Consume foods known to contribute to your health.

Plant-based choices-Choose minimally processed plant foods that are known for their health benefits.

Variety and balance -Fill your plate with whole grains, healthy fats, and a colorful array of fruits and vegetables every day.

Support a pollution-free environment- Select foods that have been produced without harming our planet.

Mindful eating -Truly savor, enjoy, and focus on what you eat.

What is the threshold effect?

Research supports evidence of an inverse relationship of fruit and vegetable consumption with development of chronic disease. This means that the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to develop chronic diseases. The most significant reductions in risk of illness are seen when individuals consume 7-10 servings of fruits & vegetables per day (the threshold). Therefore, to get the most health benefits we recommend a minimum “threshold” of 7 servings of fruits & vegetables daily.

What are the recommended servings of fruits, greens and veggies per day?

Overall: more than 7 servings

Vegetables: unlimited (minimum 5 servings)

Fruits: 2-4 servings

Recommended Serving Sizes of Fruits & Vegetables

Fruit or Vegetable

Serving Size


Size of tennis ball

Baby carrots





¾ cup

Vegetables, cooked

½ cup



Fruit, Dried

¼ cup

Melon, Chopped

1 cup

Fruit/Vegetable, Raw, Chopped

½ cup

Leafy Greens, Raw, Chopped

1 cup

Specific Considerations


Fiber comes from plants, therefore fruits and vegetables are naturally good sources of dietary fiber.

In some cases fruits and vegetables with the skin have more fiber and antioxidants than their peeled counterparts, so wash them well and eat the skins


For individuals who do not consume dairy products, vegetables can be a good source of Calcium.

Many dark green leafy vegetables including mustard greens, turnip greens, and bok choy are good sources of calcium

Glycemic Index

Fruits and greens are generally low on the glycemic index and therefore, cause a gradual increase in blood sugar.

Tropical fruits, carrots and beets, have received a bad name for having a high glycemic index.

Most of these foods have a low glycemic load so the amount of sugar provided in an average serving is unlikely to significantly increase blood sugar.

Variety is important - the benefits of eating different types of fruits and vegetables greatly outweigh the potential risk of eating a food that is naturally high in sugar.


Research tells us that the more phytochemical - rich foods eaten, the lower the risk for diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

Red - lycopene- found in tomatoes, watermelon, & pink grapefruit .

Orange- beta carotene- found in fruits and veggies - beta carotene found in carrots, mangoes, & cantaloupe.

Yellow - beta cryptothanxin- found in pineapple, oranges, & peaches.

Green – indoles- found in broccoli, cabbage, & kale etc

Purple – anthocyanins- found in blueberries, grapes, eggplant & cherries

White – allicin- found in garlic, onions, & chives and others like bananas etc


The most well known phytochemical are the antioxidants :

Colorful plant foods are loaded with antioxidants so eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is a great way to protect the body from oxidative damage, and therefore reduces the risk of numerous health conditions

Research shows antioxidants play a role in preventing prostate, lung, mouth, and throat cancers. Research also suggests antioxidants are helpful in the prevention and management of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, arthritis and aging.

Cooking Fruits and Vegetables

Some antioxidants are available when the fruit or vegetable is raw, and others are more available when the fruit or vegetable is cooked. For example:

-Lycopene, found in tomatoes, is more available to the body when they are cooked.

-Beta carotene, found in carrots, is more available to the body when they are raw.

-Steaming helps vegetables retain water-soluble B vitamins and vitamin C, which are easily lost during boiling.

High cooking temperatures and long cooking times also destroy heat sensitive nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin C, and folate, so keep cooking times short

Pesticide Use

To reduce consumption of pesticides, follow these tips:

Wash all fruits and vegetables with water or a fruit and vegetable wash.

Some common homemade fruits and vegetable washes are:

-2tbsp. baking soda + 1 tbsp lemon juice + water

-½ white vinegar + ½ water (soak for 5 minutes)

-Diluted dish soap

Before eating apples, cucumbers, potatoes or other produce in which the outer skin or peel is consumed, scrub with a brush.

Throw away the outer leaves of leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and cabbage

Consider Organic

According to the Consumers Union and The Environmental Working Group as of 2009, the top fruits and vegetables to buy organic because of potential pesticide residue are:














      Sweet bell peppers




Ways to Increase your Organic Fruits and Vegetables Intake

v   Shop at farmers markets (Find one locally at: localharvest.org)

v   Buy a share in a community supported agriculture (CSA) program -For more information, check out nal.usda.gov

v   Join a food co-op, they are great places to find local produce

v   Preserve extra organic produce when in season by freezing or canning

v   Grow your own fruits and vegetables -Try starting small: cherry tomatoes and peppers can easily be grown in pots indoors or outdoors

v   Prioritize: start with buying what is on sale or choose one item you eat most frequently and switch to organic.

Ideas to Increase Consumption of Fruits and Vegetable

v   Do it gradually

v   Snack on raw vegetables instead of chips and crackers. To keep it interesting, try dipping vegetables in hummus, salsa or low-fat dip.

v   Add fruit to your cereal or yogurt at breakfast

v   Order salads as an appetizer when out to dinner

v   Get creative - add vegetables to dishes that don’t always include them, like scrambled eggs, rice or pasta dishes, pizza and casseroles

v   Drink your fruits and vegetable (including fruit just past its prime) in the form of a fruit or green smoothie where the whole fruit is used -Be aware, many store bought smoothies and mixes are made with added colors and sugar, and lack the naturally occurring fiber, so check the label before you buy

v   Choose salads as your main course for lunch or dinner. For variety, top your salads with strawberries, grapes, orange slices, or dried cranberries; and for protein add tempeh, nuts, or fish.

v   In hot weather, frozen fruit such as grapes, sliced kiwis, sliced peaches, bananas and strawberries are a refreshing snack

v   Enjoy salad bars at restaurants or grocery stores

v   When craving a sweet treat, try dried fruit; it’s quick, easy and no mess! For easy access keep some at work or in the car

v   Buy fresh fruits and vegetables in season. (Find out what to buy: nrdc.org)

v   Frozen fruit and vegetables are frozen soon after harvest and can be eaten during the off season as a nutritious alternative to fresh produce

v   Watch local grocery advertisements for reduced prices on your favorite fruits and vegetables

v   Try fruit for dessert, on its own or with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or ice cream. A bowl of mixed berries is an excellent treat for the sweet tooth.

v   Prepare fruits and vegetables ahead of time, so they are readily available when you are hungry

v   Fill half of your plate with vegetables and/or fruit

v   Choose a rainbow of fruits and vegetables daily; quantity is important and variety is the way to maximize your nutrient consumption.

v   Many fruits and vegetables are easy snacks for a busy day. Try baby carrots, grapes, clementines, apples, bananas, cherries, even broccoli.