If you’ve been with me a bit here at One Degree Health or have been perusing my other blog posts on healthy habits, then you know how much I believe in the power of daily micro-habits on our health and wellness. I believe in them so much that I even named my company after this concept (aka one-degree habit changes).
Back in early 2020, to help my clients stay on track with their wellness goals while managing the newfound stress of the pandemic, I created my Healthy Habits Tracker with My Daily 9™ micro-habits.
My Daily 9™ is a list of THE nine micro-habits that I have personally witnessed to have tremendous results when done consistently, along with an action guide for implementing these nine habits.
And boy, did they see tremendous results when they focused on implementing just these 9 daily micro habits.
The #1 Daily Micro-Habit
Of My Daily 9™ micro-habits, there is one that reigns supreme, and that’s the habit of “Eating greens or veggies.”
When you download the Daily 9 Healthy Habits Tracker & Action Guide, you’ll see that “eating greens or veggies” is listed as a Daily 9 habit …not once, not twice, but three times.
Three times out of 9 habits? It’s either really important, or my keyboard keys got stuck.
Yes, eating greens and vegetables every day really is that important.
I’d even go as far as saying:
Getting your veggies in every day, at every meal, is probably THE most important habit you can create for yourself.
More important than the rest of the Daily 9, and even more important than working out.
Yes, this habit is more important than exercising. I’ll share more on that later…
Getting Started with this #1 Daily Micro-Habit
So the ask for this micro-habit is that you eat greens or veggies at breakfast, at lunch, and at dinner.
That means anything green (like a salad or avocado) or anything that you would consider to be a vegetable (like bell pepper or cauliflower).
You get bonus points if it’s both green AND a vegetable. Think kale, spinach, broccoli, artichokes, green beans, arugula.
I’m sure you have questions, like “Does it need to be organic?”
At this point, no, they don’t have to be organic.
It also doesn’t have to be fresh from the produce aisle either. Frozen and canned veggies work too.
Just Check the Box
The goal for right now is to check the box. You do that by eating any vegetable at each meal.
This can be hard for a lot of people, so let’s keep it simple and not complicate this habit with specifics right now.
Just focus on the act of adding a vegetable to your meal.
Once you get this habit down, you can start tweaking the specifics like organic vs. conventional, fresh vs. frozen vs. canned, etc.
But what about fruit?
Notice that I am being very particular that this habit is about greens and veggies, not “fruits and vegetables.”
Don’t get me wrong, fruits have their place, but right now, especially if you’re wanting to make a significant change to your health, your focus is on your veggie intake, not fruit.
I’ll talk about fruits and their role in your wellness journey at a later date.
Stop Focusing on “How Much”
Did you notice that I’m also not using the dreaded “S” word?
You know, the one that gets repeated over and over when being told how you should eat healthily?
That dreaded S word of Servings.
We’ve been hearing since the dawn of the Food Pyramid (remember that?) that we should be eating “5 servings a day.” Or is it now 6?
Actually, the recent guidelines are now saying we should eat 10 servings of vegetables a day. Whoa.
Ten servings a day just sounds like a huge number to reach every day, doesn’t it? And remember, I’m a functional nutritionist. So if this sounds big to me, this must be extremely daunting to everyone else.
And it is daunting – it’s paralyzing, in fact.
This constant use of “servings” and all of us trying to answer the question “how much should I be eating” is paralyzing us.
So instead of eating our 10 “recommended servings a day,” we’re giving up before we even start. Most of us are barely getting in ONE serving a day. ONE.
In fact, 97% of Americans are NOT meeting the minimum recommended amount, according to a Mayo Clinic study.
Quality over Quantity
So I get why recommending “servings” is the approach used by dieticians, and know that it’s coming from a good place, but dictating your amount and size of your food is not something you’re going to hear from me.
Why? Because I don’t believe in looking at your food as “servings” and measurements.
Why? Because I don’t look at food as a quantity. I look at food as Quality.
Why? Because as a functional nutritionist, my food philosophy is that if you’re eating the RIGHT foods – the foods that your body and cells are craving (even screaming for you to eat) to support your gut, your heart, your skin, your immunity, then there’s literally no limit to how much of it that you can and should be eating. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
So back to the dreaded “servings” word.
When it comes to the Daily 9 habit of “eating greens or veggies,” you’re not looking at “how much” you should have on your plate.
You can add one piece of spinach or you can eat an entire bag of greens – either way, you can mark this Daily 9 habit as completed.
Now you may be thinking,
“That’s ridiculous, who eats just ONE piece of spinach?”
Well, that’s kinda my point. Most people are probably not adding that single piece of spinach now because they feel that it has to be a “serving” size. So what happens? They don’t eat any veggies at all.
Going back to my Food Pyramid example – most aren’t eating anywhere near the “10 recommended servings” today because it sounds daunting and hard, and even paralyzing.
How big is a “serving” anyway?
The Power of Removing “How much?” from Your Vocabulary
What’s great about removing “how much” from the equation is that there’s going to be “those days.” You know the ones when there’s practically nothing in the fridge, or you’re out at a happy hour or bar, or stuck with extremely limited options – think Superbowl food and holiday parties.
Those are the times you’re going to have to really scour the pantry, the bar menu, or the buffet table to find anything that remotely resembles a green veggie.
But because you got yourself into the habit of completing your Daily 9, you’re always going to be seeking and learning creative ways to add vegetables to your meals. You’ll become hyperaware of various ways you can get them onto your plate.
So, are you ready to get started on this Daily 9 Healthy Habit?
How to Implement this Daily Micro-Habit with Ease
1. Replace “how much?” with this simple yes/no question:
“Does this meal contain a vegetable?”
If yes, great, you’re creating a healthy habit!
If no, then ask, “How can I add a vegetable?” and then do what you can to get a vegetable on your plate and into your mouth.
Whether it’s one piece of spinach or a slice of onion on your sandwich, it counts as a Yes.
It’s okay to start small, adding in what you can for every meal.
And then you know what, one day you’ll start adding more.
That one piece of spinach on your sandwich may turn into two pieces, then into a side salad, and then evolve into a plate of veggies or a large entree salad.
2. Just get started.
Ready for more? Then watch this video
If you’ve stuck with me this long, then you’re really going to want to check out the video below. It’s from a special masterclass I did for my wellness community on micro-habits.
If you’re serious about marking off this habit to make some real changes to your health, then you should definitely take the 5 minutes to watch this video.
This video not only goes deeper into what I’ve shared above, but you’ll also learn how this micro-habit can have a dramatic positive impact on your sleep quality, your energy levels, your stress levels, your weight, blood sugar levels, cholesterol, etc.
Click the image below to start watching – it’s about 5 minutes long. You’ll also learn the secret of why I don’t ask my clients to restrict and remove foods from their diet.
Just Get Started.
Wow, this post is way longer than I thought it would be. Thanks for sticking with me. But if it’s as easy as saying “eat your veggies because they’re good for you,” then we’d all be doing it all the time, right?
So it’s time for you to get started. Add that one piece of spinach or broccoli, or that sliver of onion, and start checking off this Daily 9 habit!
If you enjoyed this post, then you will also like the Daily 9 Healthy Habits Tracker & Action Guide. Download your free copy over here, or better yet, buy the Daily 9 Healthy Habits Tracker pad and magnet for just $10 (while supplies last) over at HealthyHabitsTracker.com.
To your health!