“Eat your vegetables.”
Few of us made it through our childhood years without mom (or dad) beseeching, pleading with, or just plain ordering us to consume the green, orange or yellow things on our dinner plates. We wrinkled our noses in response, pushing our peas under the tablecloth or stealthily feeding our carrots to the dog.
But mom and dad were right.
Vegetables and their sweeter counterparts, fruits, are among the most important parts of a healthy diet.
According to the Dietary Guideline for Americans, issued and updated every five years by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Americans ages 2 and older should consume fewer calories, make better food choices and be more physically active to maintain a healthy weight and reduce risk of chronic disease.
A healthy diet, according to the guidelines, is one that includes whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk products, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.
It also emphasizes fruits and vegetables. In fact, the USDA and HHS recommend that half of your plate be filled with our childhood adversaries.
We may balk at the idea of eating more green. But the bottom line is we are facing a health crisis in this nation when it comes to the expanding size of our waistlines. More than one-third of children and two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, stemming from poor nutrition and inactivity.
This makes the unavailability of produce at local food banks an unfortunate situation. Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana, the chief supplier of distributing food to the needy, recently had to halt distributions after seeing a 60 percent drop in donations and shortage in produce.