Veggie 101: Focusing On Variety vs. Quantity

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, how many would you estimate you’re eating per day? Not the total number of servings, but how many different kinds?

Most people feel slightly embarrassed disclosing the honest answer. Look. I get it! Eating tons of different fruits & veggies on a daily basis can seem daunting.

With that said, let’s address a slight misinterpretation here: eating an assortment isn’t saying consume more food. Truthfully, it’s not implying that at all — it’s simply encouraging more combination in your dishes with the same intake amount.

Ironically, when we include more plants, we’re more likely to reduce portion sizes to the proper amount. Diversifying our intake appropriately leaves us far more satiated.

Why does it matter? Your gut flora needs it.

Essentially, limiting our diets to the same foods doesn’t set our gut flora up for success (and this is one of our greatest allies we’re talking about).

Bacterial flora — the microorganisms that live in our digestive system — play a vital role in our wellbeing. Our gut is heavily responsible for preventing illness, making skin glow, directing all bodily systems to function happily, maintaining balanced moods, just to name a few.

It’s pretty amazing and resilient — but before it can live up to this role, it depends on us for adequate fuel.

A healthy gut requires diversity to produce good microbes. We encourage the growth of beneficial bacterial flora when we eat a wide variety of plants. The gut has an amazing way of breaking down plants and using all those nutrients to complement one another. When we only eat the same veggie day in and day out, it doesn’t create the same energizing effect (and can really have the opposite effect if it’s carb heavy) because we’re not giving our bodies any additional nutrients to work with.

Here are 4 ways to ensure you’re creating an environment that allows good gut flora to flourish:

Avoid Packaged Foods

It really is the bad guy. Bad gut flora (the kind responsible for headaches, breakouts, low energy, weak immunity, etc.) all thrive on dairy, processed sugar, and refined grains. The less you consume, the more you deprive this bad bacteria, and in turn, gain the opportunity to support good gut flora.

At Least 7 Different Plants Daily

This means at least 2 different veggies in each meal and 1 snack. If your daily intake is already in the double digits, your gut flora thanks you! Seven should be your minimum, with the goal being closer to ten. If this seems like a lot, correcting it doesn’t need to be complex. Aim for dishes that need a veggie combination, such as smoothies, soups, stir-fry’s, salads, nourish bowls, etc.

Combine Combine Combine

Throwing a bunch of different foods in the same dish is not just for efficiency — it is the key to creating nourishing meals that support gut health. The fact that it’s easy is merely a bonus.

Like stated before, choose meals that encourage variety like smoothies, soups, stir-fry’s, salads, nourish bowls, etc. You can easily fit a minimum of 4 fruits and/or vegetables into each of those, and the possibilities are endless. Get creative.

Instead of just roasting sweet potatoes, how about adding carrots? Or the next time you make a smoothie, instead of 3 plants, how about 5? Banana, mango, pineapple, spinach, blueberries. Boom. Delicious and full of phytonutrients.

Buy The Rainbow

Heard this one before? Foods show us what micronutrients they carry by their color.

Pink – Grapefruit = Lycopene
Carrots – Orange = Betacarotene
Purple – Cabbage = Anthocyanin

Getting variety is going to start at the grocery store, so buying food in every color is key. This is one of my favorite nutrition tips because it guarantees that you’ll cultivate healthier gut flora.

If you find yourself buying the same limited produce each week, this one is definitely for you. Make it a point to switch it up. If you’re unsure of what to do with new veggies, time to get on all the blogs of those food instagrams you follow, or check out the “PLANT EATS” section here on Among the Flora to find new recipe ideas!

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