I received a survey in the mail last week. You see, back in 2009 I enrolled in a cancer prevention study and have received lengthy surveys every few years or so. It is a very thorough survey that includes hundreds of questions and takes several days to fill out. The survey inquires about every aspect of health and lifestyle: information about immunizations; diet; hours spent sitting, sleeping or moving; medications taken; caffeine consumption and more.
Except for a few minor, non-life threatening ailments, I consider myself a pretty healthy person and my doctor gave me a clean bill of health during my annual wellness/preventive visit (don’t forget to schedule yours!). I was confident that my answers to the survey questions would be a no-brainer. Overall, boy, was I surprised, especially when it came to the diet section.
The survey listed every kind of fruit and vegetable and asked the respondent to indicate frequency of consumption. I thought I was a good fruit and vegetable eater, but there are some foods that I don’t eat that often for various reasons. So my consumption of kale, which I tend to eat frequently in the summer, but not as much in the winter, actually results in a low monthly average consumption overall. Likewise, cantaloupes and other melons are eaten only seasonally, so their consumption average was low.
In addition to my monthly average being affected by what fruits and vegetables are in season, I found that the variety of what I eat could use improvement. My family eats salads every day with dinner and at work I enjoy a salad for lunch, but while the amounts of vegetables I eat are high, the variety I enjoy is low.
Needless to say this prompted a discussion among our family members, and it dawned on us that just because we eat vegetables and fruits every day does not mean we are eating as healthy as we could. This summer, as we plan our vegetable garden, we will keep in mind a variety of vegetables to grow. While apples and carrots are a staple at our house, we plan to expand our fruit and vegetable repertoire when shopping for produce.
I encourage all of you to take a more detailed look at your eating habits. Are you eating enough servings of fruits and vegetables? Are you following the recommendation of ‘vary your vegetables’ to take full advantage of the nutrients available?