Habit 4: Eat Colourful Vegetables
Previously, we covered the Habit of Eating Quality Protein.
Now, we’re going to build on that with the Habit of Eating Colourful Vegetables.
Habit 🎯 Instructions:
We will explain more about the habit of eating colourful vegetables below, but for now just know:
- ✅ Easy Mode: Eat some colourful vegetables with at least 1 meal per day.
- ✅ Hard Mode: Eat some colourful vegetables with every meal.
If you’re not sure how many vegetables to eat, “something is better than nothing” is always a great place to start. Beyond that, check out the Sleekgeek Portion Control Guide.
The Sleekgeek Food List is divided into four main food groups: Quality Protein, Colourful Vegetables, Smart Carbs, and Healthy Fats.
Below is the Colourful Vegetables section of the Sleekgeek Food List:
- 🍅Red: Beetroot, onions (red), peppers (red), radishes, rhubarb, tomatoes, etc.
- 🌽Yellow / Orange: Beetroot (yellow), carrots, peppers (yellow), sweet corn, tomatoes (yellow), etc.
- 👻White / Tan / Brown: Cauliflower, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, etc.
- 🍆Purple: Arparaguas (purple), cabbage (purple), carrots (purple), eggplant, peppers (purple), etc.
- 🥦Green: Artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, celery, cucumber, green beans, green peas, leafy greens (kale, spinach, collards, mustard greens, bok choy, etc), leeks, lettuce, onions (green), peppers (green), sugar snap peas, zucchini, etc.
These are the colourful vegetable “superstar” foods that are:
- Lower-calorie, lower-starch (carb), and more fibrous kinds of vegetables (as opposed to the higher-calorie, starchier and carb-dense vegetables like potatoes or pumpkin which we consider to be “smart carb” choices on the Sleekgeek Food List instead).
- Colourful as each colour provides it’s own unique health benefits. Green veggies may get the most popularity, but red, yellow, purple, and even white / tan / brown vegetables are fantastic too. The wider variety of colours you can get in your meals, the better.
- Minimally processed, single-ingredient foods whenever possible, and commonly found / easily included in a normal healthy diet.
More About Vegetables👇:
Vegetables are nutritional powerhouses and tend to be the foundation of just about every healthy diet out there.
Most people are already sold on the benefits of eating vegetables, even if it is easier said than done.
With that said, we would like to put an emphasis on colourful vegetables.
Green veggies may get the most popularity and media attention, but red, yellow, purple, and even white / tan / brown vegetables are fantastic too. Each colour provides it’s own unique health benefits and the wider variety of colours you can get in your diet, the better.
Bottom Line: We need to consume a variety of colourful vegetables in order for our bodies to function well. If we don’t, it can make our goals of fat loss, weight maintenance, muscle gain, or general health much more difficult.
Eating vegetables regularly is a 👍 great habit to get into:
Most people already know that vegetables are healthy…
But it’s worth taking a look at some of the very specific ways that they can benefit you as some benefits may be more meaningful to you than others:
- Vegetables help you feel fuller and stay fuller for longer due to their high volume (from fiber and water content).
- Vegetables make weight loss and weight maintenance easier by displacing higher-calorie foods and helping you consume less calories in general.
- Vegetables improve your digestion and help you stay hydrated due to their high fiber and water content.
- Vegetables help you to avoid nutrient deficiencies, reduce your risk of disease, boost your immune system, lower inflammation, improve recovery and performance, and generally raise your overall level of health due being rich in essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.
We’ve found that when our clients bulk their meals up with vegetables, they feel fuller while eating fewer calories and, as a result, lose weight and maintain their weight loss more easily.
Colourful vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet:
When it comes to building a healthy meal (such as with the Sleekgeek Healthy Meal Template) we recommend that you start with your protein, then bulk it up with vegetables, and finally build the rest of your meal around that.
How many vegetables should you eat per day?
Recommended vegetable intake varies from one health authority to the other and from country to country.
- The Association for Dietetics in South Africa and the South African Food-Based Dietary Guidelines recommend that you “eat plenty of vegetables and fruit every day.”
- The South African Heart Foundation Healthy Eating Guidelines recommend that you “enjoy a variety of fruit and vegetables, either fresh or frozen and aim for at least 5 a day.”
- The World Health Organization recommends that you eat “at least 400g, or 5 portions, of fruits and vegetables per day.”
- The USDA recommends that you eat “2-3 cups of vegetables per day.”
- The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that you eat “plenty of vegetables, including different types and colours.”
- Trusted source, Healthline’s Authority Nutrition conclude that “most studies note the greatest benefits when people eat 3-4 portions per day.” (1/2 – 1 cup per portion.)
The guidelines that we use are:
- 1 Serving = roughly 1 Cup.
- Aim for 5 cups of colourful fruit and vegetables each day (1 cup of greens, 1 cup of reds, 1 cup of oranges, 1 cup of whites, and 1 cup of purples).
- Ideally, eat more vegetables than fruit. If you opt for fruit, then eat less
starchy / smartcarbohydrates as per the Sleekgeek Healthy Meal Template.
- You can simplify this by using hand-based portion control guidelines where:
- 1 Serving of veg is about the size of your fist.
- 1 Serving of fruit is about the size of your cupped hand.
An easy way to manage vegetable portion sizes:
Using measuring cups and scales can be quite laborious and is not necessary for most people.
Instead, we recommend using the Sleekgeek Portion Control Guide.
This is a fantastic system that we use here at Sleekgeek in our own daily lives, as well as in our Sleekgeek Coaching Program with great success.
It lets you simplify portion control by using your fist, palm, cupped hand, and thumb as rough measuring tools.
Read more about the Sleekgeek Portion Control Guide here.
How to build the habit of eating colourful vegetables:
Eating colourful vegetables with every meal is the second nutritional-based habit that we teach in the Sleekgeek Coaching Program. It’s a great anchor habit to keep you on track, help you make healthier meal choices, and fill you up so that you are more satisfied with eating less calorie-dense food.
[Easy Mode] Beginners:
Your priority is to get started and take action. “Something is better than nothing”.
- Print out the Colourful Vegetables Food List above or the full Sleekgeek Food List and get to know what colourful vegetables are out there.
- Stock up and make sure that you always have them conveniently on hand. See the Sleekgeek Kitchen Makeover and Supermarket Survival Guide for help on this.
- Stick to easy and convenient colourful vegetables (buy them pre-prepped or pre-cooked if need be). Keep it simple and do-able.
- Try adding a bit more colourful vegetables to each meal using foods that you actually like and are willing to eat.
- Consider healthy eating as a spectrum of best-effort choices where you want to try to make more good choices and less bad choices whenever possible, as opposed to an all-or-nothing approach of only being allowed to make perfect choices and considering yourself a failure if you make any bad choices at all.
[Hard Mode] Intermediates and Advanced:
Your priority is to get more consistent, hit the right quantity, expand your variety, and improve your quality.
- Work on getting those colourful vegetables in with every single meal, consistently. It’s not a meal if it doesn’t have colourful vegetables!
- Focus on getting the right amount of colourful vegetables, either using one of the guidelines that we gave above or the Sleekgeek Portion Control Guide.
- Experiment with different types of colourful vegetables and see if you can expand your variety of choices.
- Try improving the quality of your colourful vegetables – such as by buying organic and food that has been sourced locally.
- Don’t forget that colourful vegetables are just one part of your meal. See the Sleekgeek Healthy Meal Template for a broader perspective and work on building up a healthy well-balanced meal.
[Important] Have a handful of go-to vegetable sources:
Make sure that you ALWAYS have a handful of go-to colourful vegetables sources on hand that are super easy to prepare and eat when short on time or low on willpower. If you fail to plan then you plan to fail.
- Vegetables like carrots, cucumber, bell peppers, baby tomatoes, and sugar snap peas are great to keep in your fridge as quick and easy choices when you’re short on time and need something with minimal prep and work.
- Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, beetroot, mushrooms, and eggplant are great to keep in your fridge as versatile staples which can be prepared fairly easily with some quick frying or even microwaving.
- Vegetables like onions, garlic, ginger, and celery are great to keep in your fridge as powerful flavourants to help you make your meals more interesting.
- Vegetables like peas, corn, beans, and carrots are great to keep in your freezer as they freeze well and can be quickly called upon if you run out of other fresh veg to use. Frozen veg is just as healthy, if not healthier than fresh veg at times.
Getting into the habit of eating colourful vegetables doesn’t need to be complicated or super fancy. It just requires a bit of effort up front, and then a system that you can continuously and regularly maintain. You will come to learn which foods you need to buy frequently and which foods you only need to stock up in bulk once in a while.