This simple math equation has helped many of my clients improve their eating habits and balance their overall diet.  The formula is simple: Consume at least two (2) vegetables in two (2) of your daily meals, in four (4) out of the seven days of the week.  That’s it!  As simple as it sounds, you still end up consuming a minimum of 16 servings of vegetables a week.  As you’ll see below, that’s a really good thing.

“Why only 2 vegetables and why with just 2 of your meals?” Well, to be frank, because it’s an easy plan to remember and to implement (2+2=4).  There’s nothing complicated about it, and when you’re trying to install new health habits, you’ll be more inclined to stay consistent if it’s simple.  If you are already eating this way then, bravo, pat yourself on the back.  Chances are, if you have a busy schedule, you aren’t.  Think about it.  How many vegetables do you really consume on a daily basis?  Adding two servings of vegetables to a couple of your meals will instantly improve your eating habits and your overall health.

“Antonio, how is your 2+2=4 food plan really going to improve my health?”

First of all: Fiber. Most vegetables are packed with fiber. That’s important because a fiber-rich diet can help you keep your weight in check. Many of us overeat, yet we never feel satisfied–we’re a product of our environment and the overabundance of processed food that fills us up but doesn’t deliver nutrients we crave. Fiber makes us fuller and stays in our stomach longer, therefore slowing down our rate of digestion. In addition, fiber contributes to better elimination.

Second: Vitamins & Minerals. The best place to get your vitamins, minerals and phyto-nutrients is not from a bottle, but from your food, especially vegetables! Nutrients in vegetables are vital for every bodily function. Without them, our health breaks down. All this means is eat your veggies. You’ll get an abundance of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber along with a delicious meal.

Third: Awareness & Behavior Change. When it comes to wellbeing, good choices and consistency are what lead to success. It takes some weekly planning to make sure your meals contain at least two vegetables. Think about the plan, for instance, when you’re in a restaurant and looking at the menu. Unless it’s a vegetarian place, you generally aren’t focusing on the vegetables that come with your entrée. (More often than not, it’s some form of potato!) Veggies are often an afterthought. The same can be said for ordering lunch on the go. Ordering a fresh turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread sure sounds healthy, but where are the vegetable nutrients? Even a salad with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and grilled chicken is just a start, not a solution. The easiest place to make sure you get enough servings of vegetables will be at home. Since you’re the one who’s going to purchase and prepare the food, you can pre-plan what to eat and make sure there’s a variety of healthy vegetables ready for your table. This makes you more aware of what and how you eat.

Here’s a final thought.  Not all vegetables are created equal.  It’s important to mix up your vegetables to ensure you get all your essential nutrients. Some vegetables provide less nutritional value than others. Sure, you can consume them, but as far as I’m concerned they don’t really count towards your daily intake of vegetables.  (Sorry, but the lettuce and tomato on that turkey sandwich doesn’t cut it!)  What’s great about this food plan is that there are literally hundreds of varieties of vegetables found in your average supermarket.  Even if you’re a picky eater, you’ll have plenty to choose from.  On that note, here’s a list of low-nutrient veggies that you should exclude from my 2+2=4 food plan:

• Celery
• Corn
• Cucumbers
• Iceberg lettuce
• Potatoes

However, that’s really the whole point of my math-inspired diet–to make you think about what you are (or aren’t) eating!  After all, the more healthy stuff you have on your plate (aka vegetables), the less room there is for the not-so-healthy stuff. It’s going to be right there in front of you.  Remember- 2 vegetables with 2 of your daily meals, at least 4 days out of the week.  Try it for a few weeks and see how much better you look and feel.

In good health,