Ok Thermal, its time to announce our annual Spring Nutrition Challenge. For the past few years we’ve tried to add something unique and fun to our challenges. The idea of counting calories, starving yourself or having certain foods be off limits 100% of the time tends to be less attractive and thereby harder to stick with. This season we are flipping the script and going with a challenge that aims to INCLUDE certain foods, as opposed to avoiding or limiting them. This approach also pushes out poorer choices. To amass the needed 8 servings, you’ll have to make better choices throughout the day (since 8 servings of fruits and vegetables is tough to consume in one sitting). So while “anything goes” in the diet, you will likely find yourself reaching for the piece of fruit over a poorer choice to stay on track.
- Eat 8 servings of fruits and/or vegetables (total) a day.
- No foods are restricted during the challenge but only fruits and vegetables count towards the 8 servings.
- Total calories (and macronutrient grams) are up to the individual based on their fruit and vegetable choices, as well as the other foods in their diet.
- Dried fruits/vegetables and juices do not count towards the total.
- Macronutrient Flexibility. By allowing any fruits and vegetables as “fair game” it is up to the user how many carbohydrate grams they consume. This means it can be molded to fit both lower and higher carb needs. It could be very low carb at ~25 grams per day (e.g., all celery) or closer to ~215 grams (e.g., all Japanese yams).
Hopefully, we don’t have to list all the existing fruits and vegetables! You know these. Here are a few exceptions that can be confusing:
- Avocado: A fruit! Count it.
- Coconut: A fruit! Count it if you eat it as the fresh meat. Liquid (milk and juices) and dried (flakes) coconut products do not count.
- Corn: As in corn on the cob or whole kernels, count it! Corn derivatives (i.e., cornmeal, popcorn (derived from dried kernels)) do not count.
- Grains (like quinoa or buckwheat) do not count.
- Legumes (beans) and peas: Except for peanuts, count them!
- Olives: A fruit! Count them.
- Nuts: Do not count towards your total.
- Tomato derivatives (e.g., salsa, tomato sauce): If the entire ingredient list is vegetables and spices, count it. Most tomato sauces, salsas, etc., however, include water, oil, and/or sugar in the ingredient list, such that they do not count.
Why 8 Servings?
Eat 8 servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day and reduce your risk of cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. There is not often consensus in nutritional literature, but it is almost universally accepted that consumption of fruits and vegetables are good for your health. This ultimately begs the question of how much?
Research has found improved health associated with amassing 8 servings of fruit and vegetables per day. Further, 8 per day is a target similar to other research regarding health outcomes and can meet (or exceed) the USDA recommendations. The 8 serving target is also at or above recommendations set by other organizations such as the World Cancer Research Fund and the World Health Organization, as well as standards set by some European countries. And – its a challenge so it has to be a little bit tough.
Challenge Dates : 4/22 through 5/13
Each participant will be added to our private Facebook group and receive ongoing support and guidance throughout the challenge. Participants are encouraged to be active and share successes over the course of the 21 days.
Weekly Prizes for participation and a Grand Prize based on overall success!
Most of all – lets have fun, encourage each other and see if we can teach ourselves to make better choices long term.