foodscout blog

Why are the serving sizes for leafy greens so high?

Green SmoothieWhen looking up the USDA values for different foods, several options for serving size were available for us to use. We tried to choose serving sizes that align with how much of that type of food the average health-conscious person eats in one sitting.

Leafy greens, such as lettuce, spinach, kale, etc., is an exception to this rule. Most people, including those who eat a healthy diet, do not eat nearly enough greens. Even a big salad only contains 2 or 3 leaves. It may seem like a lot when it is cut up into small pieces and tossed with other veggies and dressing, but it really isn’t.

If we were to set the serving size to what most people actually eat, rather than how much they should eat, you wouldn’t be able to see the rich nutritional content that greens have to offer. All of the serving sizes for our leafy greens pages are set at 100g (with corresponding volume estimates in cups), so that the the nutritional values of the different greens can be easily compared.

We are strong advocates of the “Green Smoothie,” popularized by raw foodist Victoria Boutenko. Green smoothies are an easy and delicious way to eat all your greens in one meal. We recommend eating a green smoothie every day. Kids love them too!

To make a green smoothie, fill your blender 1/2-way with your favorite fruit and the other 1/2 with greens, and blend. If you are using a regular blender (as compared to a high powered blender like a K-Tec or Vita-Mix) you may want to chop your ingredients up into small pieces before blending. If your smoothie tastes too bitter, add more fruit. Over time, you will likely grow accustomed to the taste of greens and so less fruit will be required.

For more information about green smoothies and some recipes to get you started, check out this nice discussion:

How do I start to improve my diet?

Many people have visited and been inspired by the delicious, nutritious, natural foods listed here, but they don’t know how to start making positive changes toward a healthier diet.

Obviously, everyone is different, so what works well for one person might be totally ineffective for another. If you know you need to eat better but the task seems overwhelming, we recommend you start off with small, simple changes. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Idea #1: Focus on adding more fresh fruits and veggies and whole grains to your diet, rather than forcing yourself to give anything up. Have a big salad alongside your meals. Eat fresh fruit or a smoothie with breakfast. Adding healthy foods to your diet will crowd out less healthy choices while feeding your body vital nutrients. Over time, you will crave more of the good stuff and less of the unhealthy comfort foods.

Idea #2: Restrict your diet, but only in limited ways at first. As an example, commit to never eating “partially hydrogenated oils”, which are commonly found in the most unhealthy processed and packaged foods. Once you’ve achieved that goal, remove another unhealthy ingredient such as refined sugar, or chemical ingredients you can’t pronounce. The key is to commit 100% to your goal. Don’t allow little excuses (“I’ve been so good all week, I deserve a treat”) to impede your progress.

Idea #3: Pick 1 day each week to eat your ideal diet. Eating right for a full day will give you the confidence to know it can be done and will offer the opportunity to experiment with new foods and recipes. When you feel ready, increase it to 2 days per week, and then 3 days, etc.

Whether you choose one of these methods or a combination of tactics, really commit to the change. There is nothing more important for your mental and physical health than what you eat. If you feel hungry and deprived, change your diet more slowly. Becoming healthier should feel great! It should not feel like punishment. And don’t beat yourself up if you don’t succeed at your goals right away. Most of us have spent a lifetime abusing our bodies with junk food. Give yourself a break, relish in all of your accomplishments, and have fun experimenting with new ways of eating!