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Today's Nutrition Tip: Get more nutrients in your day by eating a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits. The simplest way is to buy your regular produce in an unusual color. For example, instead of red bell pepper for your salad, buy orange this week. Or instead of regular cauliflower (which satisfies the white/tan/brown color requirement), look for green cauliflower at your farmers' market.
Hi, <<First Name>>.

The year is a quarter complete and I have been thinking about what that means for me and the rest of 2016. As I wrote for my friends at Happy Living in January, being successful often means making adjustments during the process... and knowing when to adjust requires taking an assessment. So I've been doing a bit of assessing. :)

This year I only set one "big goal". Needless to say, it's not done yet, since the year just got warmed up figuratively and literally! (Stay tuned for when I'm able to share that it is done.)

For the rest of what I want to achieve this year, I've been setting short term goals. Most of them have been monthly goals, a few weekly, and one is daily (this is my nightly meditation that I still have to commit to each night before I go to bed).

And I've had one goal that I wanted to accomplish in Q1: Eat as many different plants as I can.

As a reminder, plant-based foods are incredibly critical to health and they are the most nutrient dense foods we can consume. (Nutrient dense means they have a lot of micronutrients and phytonutrients in relation to the amount of macronutrients or calories.) Because of this, they are the food most likely to help us prevent or reverse chronic conditions, from high blood pressure to autoimmunity to cancer.

Unfortunately, they are also the foods that seem to be the most difficult for most of us (including me!) to consume enough of. Not only do we need 6 - 11 servings of vegetables and fruits every day, but we also need to eat a rainbow of colors and a wide variety of types to ensure we are getting the plethora of nutrients they contain.

So, I decided to record all the different kinds of foods that I ate for three months, with a goal of 100 different varieties (even though I had no idea if this was going to be difficult or easy as I'd never done this exercise before!).

I'm thrilled to say that in 3 months, I consumed 52 different vegetables, 31 different fruits and 9 different herbs, which is a total of 92 varieties! If I add the 11 kinds of nuts and seeds and 6 types of legumes, I reached my goal with 109 plant-based foods! And this is without counting any grains, as those tend to be less nutrient dense than the other categories of plant foods. Woohoo!

During the process I learned a few things about myself:
  1. I have a tendency to reach for the same foods over and over, primarily out of laziness.
  2. I have a fairly varied diet (I got to 50 varieties pretty quickly) and I could do a better job of including some of the more obscure-to-me vegetables, like turnips.
  3. I can increase the assortment of foods I eat by getting out of my comfort zone with just one change each week (like the week I made mashed rutabaga and apples with sauteed onions).
I learned a lot about self and expanded my intake simply by being mindful about it. Now it's your turn (yes, this is the challenge of abundance I mentioned in the subject line)...

Eat as many different plants as you can in the next 3 months.

If you want some help with this challenge, consider joining my next online program. Registration for the Spring Cleansing is open and the program begins on May 2 (we'll be done in time for Memorial Day).

Also, if want more details about how I racked up 109 plant foods in 3 months, check out...


What I've been eating...

As you read, I've been eating a LOT of plant-based foods. :) Since I'm hoping you've decided to accept the challenge, I thought I'd share with you the foods that I've eaten so you can get some ideas about how to expand your own food repertoire. I've logged all the plant-based foods I've eaten for the last 3 months in this file.

Also, remember that I did this during the winter when the choice of fresh produce is more limited that at other times of year. Since we're now in spring, you should have a greater abundance of vegetables and fruits available to you. (Check out my post about seasonal eating for spring to get some ideas.)

If you're taking the challenge, let me know! And if you have any great breakthroughs along the way, tell me about it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.


In case you missed and are interested in reading them, these were the new posts to the blog this week:

  • You Deserve Better than Living with Chronic Diarrhea: This is the next installment in my posts about gut health. Last time, I talked about constipation and this is about the other end of spectrum, and just as valid as many people are struggling with chronic diarrhea. This article covers potential causes and gives a range of options for dealing with the root cause.
  • Nutrition Basics: Fiber: No matter what you eat, I can almost guarantee that you need more of this F-word in your diet. Most of us don't get the recommended amount of fiber and it is so important for health inside and outside the gut. Read this article to learn the multitude of things that fiber does for us (including helping us have regular bowel movements).

That's it for me this week. I hope that you accept my challenge to eat as many different plants as you can between now and the end of June. (I'll ask you about it in a few months!)

Also, don't forget to check out the details about my upcoming 4 week Spring Cleansing if you are looking for a program to help you get ready for summer and get back on track with your health-related New Year's resolutions. (Oh, and there's a discount if you and a friend sign-up at the same time!)

Have a wonderful week,

Stephanie Dunne, MS, RD
P.S. If you want someone to sign up for the Spring Cleansing with you or join you in trying to eat as many plants as possible in the next three months, share this email with them to tell them about it!
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