One resolution Americans may want to make for the new year that’s fast approaching is to reduce the risk of developing diet-related chronic diseases, like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer, by eating a healthier diet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that we could all be doing a better job by eating more fruits and vegetables. According to the CDC’s 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, adults should be eating 1.5-2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables every day. Jamie Ducharme says 90% of us are falling short on these goals:
According to the CDC’s data, however, just 12.2% of American adults are meeting the standard for fruit, and 9.3% are meeting the standard for vegetables. On average, the report adds, Americans are eating fruit once per day and vegetables 1.7 times per day.
Depending on age, race, gender, socioeconomic status, and where you live, your mileage may vary:
The numbers vary slightly state by state, but even the leading regions fall far short of the guidelines. People in Washington, D.C. eat the most fruit, with 15.5% of adults meeting the guidelines, and Alaska leads vegetable consumption with 12% compliance. On the flip side, only 7.3% and 5.8% of people in West Virginia are eating enough fruits and vegetables, respectively. Across the board, the study found, women eat more produce than men, and young adults eat fewer fruits and vegetables than other age groups.
Dr. Melissa Li is a pathologist; her professional experience makes her a proponent of a more plant-based diet for reasons that go beyond the mortal:
The benefits of a more plant-based diet are far-reaching, and not just for impacting public health. Such diets lead to fewer animals bred and confined on factory farms, as well as a lighter footprint on the environment, with subsequently decreased greenhouse gas emissions. Moving to a more plant-based diet also helps conserve precious natural resources like water and oil. And it helps reduce pollution, as waste from factory farms has contributed to a number of environmental disasters.
Of course, healthy eating begins in childhood. Registered dietician Julie Burns has 15 tips to get kids eating better. They’re all good, but this one might be the most important:
Be a role model. If you’re constantly on a diet or have erratic eating habits, your children will grow up thinking that this sort of behavior is normal. Be honest with yourself about the kinds of food messages you’re sending. Trust your body to tell you when you’re hungry and when you’re full, and your kids will learn to do the same.
Tomorrow, we’ll hear from our own registered dietician, Jennifer Yoon (Pediatric Alliance — St. Clair), on successful ways to approach your picky eater.