When I was in school I had a fantastic instructor, Barb Hopkins — in fact, she’s still an amazing instructor! When I was in her courses or during my supervised practice, pretty much every question in nutrition could be at least partially answered by one of two answers…
- Small, frequent meals
- Dark green leafy vegetables
I still find myself recommending both of these regularly. Why are they so effective??
Small, frequent meals help with digestion because they don’t cause distention and discomfort, particularly as compared to large meals that cause heartburn, bloating, and promote general stomach upset. Eating small frequent meals allows for the digestive system to properly respond to meals and snack. It also helps maintain normal blood sugars throughout the day. In general, I recommend that most people eat a nutritious meal or snack every 3-4 hours from breakfast through supper. BUT this isn’t the right strategy for everyone. If you find that you use it as an excuse to graze all day…beware!
Dark green leafy vegetables are amazing nutrition powerhouses. They are excellent sources of fiber, woefully lacking in most American’s diets. In addition, they are excellent sources of vitamins A, K, and potassium – also nutrients many people do not get nearly enough of. Eating dark green leafy vegetables more often can help balance your diet and bump up your overall nutritional well-being.
Here are a few to add to your weekly menu:
Spinach – This is the work horse of green leafy vegetables. It’s incredibly versatile and just as delicious lightly steamed and “dressed” with garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper, raw as the base of a colorful vegetable salad, or blended into a smoothie. Spinach is also easy to find and is affordable most of the year.
Kale – The darling of health-conscious foodies for the past several years, everybody knows about kale. Once relegated to the side of the plate as garnish, kale can now hold its own in the center of the plate. I love to eat it braised with a little onion, garlic, and apple cider vinegar. It’s also wonderful as a salad and can be made ahead because of the tough leaves soften as they sit in an acidic dressing.
Collard Greens – Well, I am from Georgia, what did you expect?! Seriously, collards are a wonderful green to add to your repertoire. They are great stewed with black eyed peas and Vidalia onions (served with cornbread, of course), as a surprise in salad, and the leaves can even be used to replace your tortilla wrap. Give them a try!