Diet

How to eat more vegetables

Eat more vegetables! You know this, but yet you don't do it. Find out why you fail and what you can do to finally do this eating veggie thing that your grandmother told you to do decades ago. We call it the 'plate-inversion protocol'.

Arvind
Aug 23, 2020

Growing up

I grew up in Chennai (and I live there today) in a vegetarian household. Our meals were rice - lots of it, and some vegetables. I didn't eat the vegetables much, except if they were roasted and fried potatoes.

Even when I expanded my eating horizons, the template was largely the same. Lots of rice, with bits of other things around it. What this means is

  • lots of empty calories
  • extremely little nutrients
  • poor macronutrient ratio/balance

Moving back, to today

I've been back in India for nearly a decade now. I firmly believe in eating produce that we get locally. Obviously. But I am also not a fan of eating south Indian food daily. So, we do mix it up quite a bit.

It was still jarring to move back and change the eating habits, and it took me a few months to figure out a process. Indian food still had huge amounts of rice/roti around it, and that much carbs is a real problem. So, I came up with a simple system to combat my upbringing and cultural context of "THIS much rice".

I call it the plate inversion protocol. It is so brutally simple that you will ignore it. But here it is.

Veg Full Meals in Tamil Nadu-How to eat more vegetables
Courtesy:Wikimedia

The plate inversion protocol

If you are generally used to a lot of rice/grain as the central part of your meal, and not eating too much vegetables - this one's for you.

Start with your plate/meal as you normally start it off with. It is useful to measure out how much rice there is, and how much vegetables you are eating - just to set a baseline.

Step 1: Take a regular spoon, and remove 1 spoon of rice.

Step 2: Pick a vegetable and add 1 spoon of it to your plate. It is okay even if it is potato.

Step 3: Eat.

Step 4: Tomorrow, start with the same baseline and remove 2 spoons.

Step 5: Add 1 spoon of potato, and 1 spoon of another vegetable.

Step 6: Eat.

Step 7: Repeat daily.

Yes, it is that simple. And yes, it works like a charm.

You can also reduce a spoonful every 2 days or every 5 days or weekly. It does not matter. In a matter of a few months, the structure of your plate and meal will be dramatically different.

Caveats, or how to fail

  • Ignore the advice because it is too simple.
  • Ignore the '1 spoon' and start off by removing a silly amount that's close to the end goal.
  • Find loopholes.

Today

I find it easy to eat more vegetables today, whichever cuisine I am eating. Even in a south Indian wedding, I am one of the few people who ask for seconds (thirds, fourths) of the meagre vegetable offerings. But so what? It is not forced. It is how I eat today. It took me a while to get here but it slowly became the new way of eating.

I am mostly vegetarian today (well, so far this year) and it is still rather straightforward because vegetables and not grain is what I structure my meal around. Of course there's grain involved but it is not the central factor. This takes some practice but it's an important skill to learn for life. We spend a lot of emphasis on this in our coaching programme and the results speak for themselves.

So, take the next 2-3 months and use the plate inversion protocol and watch your nutrient and vegetable intake change.

You need to have the courage to take the slow and reasonable approach.

Soon, you will become 'one of us', a person who eats a lot of vegetables.


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