A couple of weeks ago, your MUS Wellness Team got to join the annual UM Staff & Faculty Welcome Back Luncheon hosted by President Engstrom in Missoula. UM Wellness Champions organized fun Wellness activities at the event, and in addition to hula hooping, Grizzly themed corn hole, and voting for fall workshops, Wellness also offered a nutrition “trivia” game, the results of which turned out to be pretty interesting!
The game consisted of two trivia questions. The first question we asked was “Which of the following examples best represents a serving of vegetables?” We had four bowls on display, each with a different amount of veggies:
A. ¼ cup shredded carrots
B. 1 cup cherry tomatoes
C. ½ cup sliced cucumbers
D. ½ cup leaf lettuce
The correct answer was choice C. Choice A was too small, choice B was too large, and choice D was also too small, since it takes a full cup of leafy greens to equal a serving of vegetables. The majority of UM employees who participated aced this question. Some employees told me they thought this was a test based on last month’s Eat More Plants challenge. That was not my intention, but on this question, they passed!
The second trivia question was more difficult. I plated up a salad (from the delicious salad bar offered for lunch – thanks UM Catering!) and the question was, “If you ate this entire salad, how many servings of vegetables would you get?” See below and take a guess. Hint: The shredded orange ingredient is carrots, not cheese.
The answer was 5. The salad had 2 full cups of lettuce (2 servings), then ½ cup each of tomatoes, carrots, and cucumbers (3 servings). 18% of people who took a guess got it correct. Of those who answered incorrectly, most people actually underestimated. The most common answers were 3 servings (27%) and 4 servings (25%). Although less than 1 in 5 people answered the question correctly, the results were encouraging. If you underestimate the number of servings of vegetables that you’re getting from a salad, and if what you thought was 3 servings turned out to 5, consider how that translates over the course of an entire day. You’re likely doing much better than you think in terms of eating your veggies! The vast majority of us (1 in 10 according to a recent CDC report) still do not eat enough fruits & vegetables, but if you’re someone who gets discouraged by guidelines that may seem out of reach or unrealistic, take heart. It may be easier to meet the recommended intake than you thought!
The current dietary guidelines for veggies are actually now listed in cups per day, vary based on age and gender, and are separate from fruit recommendations. Still, if you’re a 40 year old woman and you ate the salad pictured above, you’d hit your recommended of veggies for the day. Not too tough, right? Especially when spread out throughout the day? Then keep going, because eating more plants is good for you. So good, in fact, that I made it one of my 6 Nutrition Tenets! (Read more here).
Another lesson from this trivia game was that it’s often tough to eyeball servings of food, especially when combined in a salad or meal. I’m not an advocate of measuring out every portion of every meal, but once in awhile, it can be a good exercise to measure some of your portions. You may be pleasantly (or unpleasantly) surprised.
Finally, since we are on the topic of vegetables, I wanted to share a great idea from the Dean’s Office in the College of Education, Health, and Human Development on the MSU campus. As an office, they came together and created a lunch salad bar, with each person contributing salad ingredients. How fun is that?! They got to enjoy a healthy meal as a group, with a much larger variety of ingredients than each person had individually at home; plus, they also got to claim points for the Lunch Bites challenge on the MUS Wellness Incentive Program site. Give it a try with your own department or coworker group this month!
Happy Vegetable Eating!