I don’t need to tell you that eating healthy is good for you. You already know it is.
We have been told to eat our fruits and vegetables since we were kids.
If you are reading this, chances are you are already trying to eat better or at least want to.
Eating enough fruits and vegetables daily will help you:
- Stay in your optimal weight – easily.
- Feel more energetic and focused.
- Protect your body against plenty of diseases.
- Improve the function of all the systems in your body.
- Increase the quality of your life.
However, there’s another exciting reason to eat healthy that you probably haven’t heard about:
Eating healthy can make you happier.
Turns out, eating your veggies isn’t just good for your body – it can also make you feel happier and more satisfied with your life.
This is what the study uncovered:
- Eating 8 portions of fruits and vegetables per day can increase your life satisfaction in the same amount as if you went from unemployment to employment.
- The expected time to perceive this increase in well-being is 2 years.
This is how the study worked:
The researchers examined the food diaries of 12 385 Australian adults over 2007, 2009, and 2013 in the Household, Income, and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey to determine their average fruit and vegetable consumption, their average life satisfaction, and their average happiness score.
Even after taking in consideration their current well-being and a list of other variables such as age, education, marital status, employment status, long-term health condition, amount of children, alcohol consumption, smoking, Body Mass Index (BMI), and exercise, they still found a significant increase in life satisfaction from eating 8 daily portions of fruits and veggies.
Take a look:
What does this mean?
Eating 8 portions of fruits and veggies per day can increase your life satisfaction by 0.24 points.
Since the average life satisfaction in this study was 7.81, you would add 0.24 to that number.
It may not sound like a high increase, but it is a significant change.
It’s the same change in life satisfaction as if you were to pass from unemployment to employment, and it’s half the emotional impact of getting divorced.
Why is this news?
So far, the majority of studies that try to measure well-being and happiness have taken in consideration only socioeconomic factors (such as marital status and income), leaving out the possible influence of food.
This study gives us new insights on the real power that healthy eating can have on our mental (not just physical) well-being.
The fact that you can experience this increase in well-being in only 24 months is even more impressive.
The protective effects of eating greens and fruits add up for years, but you can get the psychological benefits much sooner.
According to the study:
“In a sense, this article offers a new possibility for future public-policy programs to encourage healthy eating—the possibility that citizens in western society could be given evidence that happiness gains from healthy eating may occur much more quickly than any long-distant improvement to people’s physical health.”
What you can do.
Now, what do you this with this information?
You already know eating 8 portions of fruits and veggies a day can make you significantly happier.
The next step is figuring out how to easily get those 8 portions per day, right?
First, let me clarify I’m not a fan of doing too much math with my food. I don’t support calorie counting or obsessing over serving sizes unless you are going after specific weight loss goals with the help of your nutritionist.
Everyone has different nutritional needs. There is not a one-size-fits-all guideline for how many grams of food you should eat.
Of course, there are average estimates of how many calories and portions you should aim for according to your age and gender, but I like to stick to two policies: eat fresh, healthy food and listen to your body.
Unfortunately, this particular study didn’t specify what the researchers defined as a portion of fruits and veggies, but here are widely accepted dietary guidelines of how many fruits and vegetables you should consume daily:
- Fruits: 2 cups.
- Vegetables: 2 ½ cups.
These portions are meant for an average person that gets less than 30 minutes of daily physical activity.
If you are more active or follow a special diet, the optimal serving sizes will vary.
It’s not hard to get 4 or more cups of fruits and veggies per day. In fact, you can get 2 or more cups in a single green smoothie if you wanted to.
Here are some examples of what 4 portions of fruits and vegetables look like:
What 2 cups of fruits look like:
- 1 large banana + 1 small apple.
- 32 grapes + 1 large orange.
- 8 strawberries + 1 pear.
- 1 large peach + 2 large plums.
- 1 cup of dried fruit – When it comes to dried fruit, aim for the half the amount of fresh fruit. In this case, 1 cup of dried fruit equals 2 cups of fresh fruit.
What 2 1/2 cups of vegetables look like:
- 2 1/2 cups of spinach + 1 large tomato – When it comes to leafy greens, aim for double the amount. In this case, 2 cups of loosely packed greens are actually 1 cup of greens.
- 2 1/2 cups of lettuce + 2 medium carrots.
- 1 medium baked potato + 1 1/2 cup of green beans.
- 3 large stalks of celery + 1 bell pepper.
- 1 large baked sweet potato + 1 1/2 cup of cauliflower.
How to ALWAYS eat enough fruits and veggies.
The only thing you need to do to make sure you are eating enough fruits and greens is to add them to all of your meals.
A bit of berries in the morning, snack on a banana, add a kale salad to your dinner… You get it, right?
Just by adding a piece of fruit or a vegetable to every meal, you will get all the happiness boosting benefits explained in this study – not to mention you will also supercharge your body with antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.
By including fresh fruits and veggies in all your meals, you won’t even have to worry or obsess about whether you are eating enough or not – you most likely will reach more than enough servings.
Get to eating.
If you haven’t already, reach out for some fruit or a veggie right now.
It’s time to start munching on delicious healthy food that is amazing for your mind and body.
What do you think of this study?
How do you get your daily fruit and veggie dose?
Let me know in the comments below.