Veggies – Smart Food Substitutions while Intermittent Fasting

In a recent poll of WeekdayFasters, I asked “What is your biggest challenge on Fast Days?” There were several responses in the theme of “Eating too much when I do eat.” There is an easy fix to this problem – vegetables!

If you don’t love vegetables, you are going to need to become better friends with them. If you are not a fan of vegetables, you should really consider trying them again. I know people who tried a red bell pepper once twenty years ago and decided they don’t like them. But when we serve up an appetizer veggie platter with a couple dipping sauces, those are one of the first selections to disappear. (Hint: they are sweet and delicious, and packed with Vitamin A!).

The numerous health and nutrition benefits to eating a multi-colored array of vegetables are well documented – most are low in calories and fat, they are good sources of many nutrients including Vitamins A, C, folate, potassium, and of course dietary fiber. They are also filling, which is important for us especially on our Fast 5/2 days. Suffice to say… Vegetables should be a big part of your overall diet, especially on Fast 5/2 days!

Here are our rules for Veggies:

1) Make veggies at least 50% of every meal
2) Have some cut-up, raw veggies available all day long on Fast 5/2 days

Remember, you always want to know what you are going to eat before you get hungry. When it comes to food choices, decisions should not be made in the moment – you are much more likely to splurge if you don’t have a healthy choice standing by already. You should go into your day (and week) knowing what your food plan is. At home or at work, make sure to have a ziplock baggie of pre-cut celery, bell peppers (green and red are both delicious in their own way), a few carrots, sliced cucumber, some broccoli crowns and whatever other veggies you like. Another great snack (my wife’s favorite!) is a small bag of about ten almonds or walnuts. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but they have lots of healthy fats and are very satisfying!)

On Fast 5/2 days, Lisa and I often enjoy a selection of raw veggies with a half glass of wine while we are cooking our dinner. It “keeps the wolf from the door” as the old saying goes. Pass on the ranch and instead try dipping them in salsa, a brown mustard/balsamic vinegar dressing (homemade, super-easy) or nothing at all! If you snack on some veggies while you are preparing your dinner, I guarantee by the time your main course is served, it will be plenty enough to fill you up.

Dinner always includes lots of veggies, 4-6oz of protein (usually chicken or whitefish, but sometimes very lean beef or venison) and perhaps a little starch. (The way that usually happens is we have pasta prepared for the kids, and rather than feeling like I’m going without, I’ll put a single spoonful on my plate.) Sometimes Lisa makes us a huge lettuce/carrot/tomato/cucumber/whatever else we have in the house salad, and sometimes we just nuke one of the HEB steam-in-the-bag veggies (peas, peas & carrots, green beans). During the spring/summer months we have fresh veggies from Lisa’s garden, and/or we go to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning and load up!

Veggies are super healthy and should be a big part of the Weekday Fast plan….and every day. Embrace them!

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