A guest post by Juliette Britton
The new dietary guidelines recommend that fruit and vegetables make up half of your plate. So if fruit and veggies look more like a garnish, it is time for a plate makeover! Sounds simple, right? Just fill half of your plate with veggies? Unfortunately, many Americans (over 80%) do not get the recommended number of servings of fruit or vegetables. I used to be part of that 80%, so for the next few blogs, I will provide some insight on how I overcame my vegetable deficiency.
In my college days, I was an artificial sweetener junkie. I put that ‘blue packet’ on everything and consumed at least one diet soda per day. When it came to eating vegetables, I knew I needed to eat more, but I struggled with taste. I liked carrots and sweet potatoes, but I found cucumbers, celery, spinach and cauliflower incredibly bitter. As a result, I ate a lot of carrots, but that was about it! My uber health-conscious brother-in-law questioned my love for artificial sweeteners and challenged me to give them up for a couple of weeks. I reluctantly took on the challenge. For the first few days it was pretty difficult; my morning oatmeal lacked luster and I went through Fresca withdrawal. However, after about a week, it got easier. I began to sweeten my oatmeal with a little bit of honey, and instead of diet soda, I drank water with fresh lemon slices. Within a few weeks, I noticed a drastic difference in my taste preferences. I started eating green beans, spinach and beets! I couldn’t believe how different vegetables tasted.
Artificial sweeteners (aspartame, stevia, saccharin) are up to 100 times sweeter than table sugar. My taste buds had grown so accustomed to this intense level of sweetness, that I couldn’t detect the natural sugar in many fruits and vegetables. It has been over 9 years since giving up the little blue packet, and I am proud to say that I am part of the 20% that gets the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables.
Note, artificial sweeteners can be a part of a balanced diet, I am just commenting on my personal experience and what worked for me.
Today’s recipe: Homemade Lemonade
8 oz water
1 T honey
2 T lemon juice (or grapefruit juice)