I eat plenty of vegetables & fruits. Or so I thought. When my CrossFit gym here decided to do the 800-gram challenge, I thought it would be a piece of (carrot?) cake.
The 800-gram challenge is one of those things like the Whole30, Sugar Detox, etc. Yes, it is a gimmick, yes, it is a money maker for somebody. I am not sure there is any scientific evidence that 800 grams is special, but it IS a lot and I think that is the general point.
The rules are simple: eat 800 grams of vegetables and fruits each day. There are specific rules as to what counts and what doesn’t, but basically what counts are unprocessed fruits & veggies, that you can weigh, regardless of whether they are fresh, cooked, frozen or canned.
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On day 1 I quickly realized that 800 grams is a lot of vegetables & fruits. I made an emergency run to the store to stock up on every form of frozen vegetables and frozen berries I could find. Good thing I recently bought a garage freezer! Next stop was our local Tassinong Farms for some hydroponic greens (amazing). Finally, I stocked up on heavy items like carrots and avocados. Strategy, strategy. I mean, come on, this is a competition.
I’ve managed to make the 800 grams every day for the past 2 weeks. I have noticed that some days I can’t eat what I would normally eat because I am full of all the vegetables. I guess that’s the point.
I thought I would pass on some of my strategies to cram 800 grams into your day.
Rule 1: Front load those veggies.
I usually eat chia pudding for breakfast. I’ve managed to turn my 1 serving into 2 servings by mixing in frozen vegetables and berries. You can do this with oatmeal too. It may sound funny, but vegetable medley tastes pretty good mixed in there and it adds a nice crunch.
Rule 2: Be creative. Veggies go with everything.
Pretty much anything can be turned into an easy to eat puree. It is kind of like baby food: Cauliflower hummus, avocado pudding, pureed squash. I find it is a lot easier to get all the veggies in this way. Then you can double down and mix in fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables to the puree.
Then there are goodies like veggie tots and zucchini pancakes. Maybe I have a warped sense of what tastes good, but these are so good you won’t know you are eating veggies. It could be the mayonnaise…
Rule 3: Eat the veggies & fruits first.
Before you dig into whatever the “main course” is for any meal, cram in a handful of carrots. Or an apple, banana, some olives. I have been eating a large dinner salad first and often don’t have room for anything else.
Rule 4: Even dessert can contribute. I’ve made pumpkin chocolate mousse, banana peanut butter “ice cream”. It all adds up.
I have probably doubled (at least) my intake of vegetables. I try to prioritize vegetables over fruit, with the exception of berries and avocados. Some days I even blew past 800 grams. Whoa Bessie! Never thought I would have to slow down on the veggie intake.
You don’t have to do the challenge – although who doesn’t love a challenge? You can just create your own challenge. There is no magic other than accountability. I do think the challenge works well if you are naturally competitive or just driven by numbers.
Challenge or not, you can find ways to incorporate vegetables and fruits throughout your day. If you have a food scale, commit to measuring your intake for a day each week. I think you will be surprised.
Look at it this way: what is the harm in eating more vegetables and fruits? Fiber overload? I don’t think there are many documented cases of vegetable overdose.