Archive for

Home Vegetable Gardening: The New Prescription From Doctors and Nutritionists

While finishing up a project I was working on the other night, I was flipping through TV stations to at least put something on that was watchable as background noise. I came across an infomercial selling some new great weight loss product that is guaranteed to give you those 6 pack abs and rock hard muscles in as little as 20 minutes a day.

As luck would have it, I was able to catch the fine print after the narrator uttered those words that read, “results may vary and were based on a combination of proper exercise and eating 3 healthy meals every day for 12 weeks.”

I am not a dietitian or nutrition expert but common sense would leave me to believe that a healthy eating regimen combined with exercise would yield a healthier “you” with or without that piece of equipment that costs 4 easy payments of $99 per month.

The commercial, if nothing else, did make me think about something and that was how can you tie in a home vegetable garden with a healthier eating lifestyle. I mean, after all, fruits and veggies by definition are healthy for you.

I recently brought up this topic to food and nutrition expert Jill Nussinow, MS, RD, author of the book The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment and the creator of the DVD, Pressure Cooking, A Fresh Look: Delicious Dishes in Minutes.

Jill is a registered dietitian who also teaches cooking classes. She recommends to her students that they should always grow their own fruits and vegetables. She had one student who grew a large garden and was able to lose 10 pounds by adding into her healthy eating habits the fresh fruits and veggies she grew herself.

Freshness, flavor, likeliness of consumption and pick what you need are just some of the reasons why Jill recommends to her students that they grow their own. Vegetables you grow yourself will always be fresher than what you can buy in the store and have a better flavor too. She says that you are more likely to consume what you grow since you will be growing what you like to eat and she says that waste will be at a minimum because you can wait and harvest only what you will consume.

Jill also recommends, “anyone who can grow their own fruits, vegetables and herbs do so in an effort to be sure that they are getting the freshest, best and unsprayed produce. The flavor and freshness will be much improved. Also in the growing process, people get a lot of spiritual nourishment. You can’t get that from buying your vegetables. And almost everyone can grow a small pot of herbs of some sort.”

There is enough research out there to prove that adding fresh fruits and veggies to each of your meals is a great way to excellent health. So, is having a home vegetable garden the new prescription from doctors?

Yes, says, Dr. Nathan Daley a member of the International Association for Ecology and Health and the American College of Sports Medicine. “As a physician I do a great deal of nutrition and lifestyle counseling. I often recommend that patients grow their own vegetables, or at least some of them, in order to maximize the nutritional value and minimize the toxicant burden of their produce.”

In an environment where “fast” food is becoming the norm, doctors prescribing home vegetable gardening as a remedy is a great start in moving away from unhealthy eating habits. Everyone listens to their doctor right? Once prescribed though it becomes the challenge of parents everywhere to not only take and use that advice themselves but also instill that lifestyle into their children so they can then pass it on to future generations.

As a father of two children myself, I know it is important to me to do this as many other parents out there I spoke with. Registered dietitian Marcia Crawford, works with her clients to focus in on getting their children to enjoy the benefits of a “farm to fork” lifestyle. “The process always ends up with kids eating more produce. Inevitably the whole family gets involved. Meals begin to be planned and produce becomes the star of the plate, not an afterthought,” explains Marcia.

“I love the fact that you can garden at any age in any place and really impact your health – be it herbs that give flavor to foods that previously would have been drowned in fat for flavor or no fat, big flavor berries or some seriously healthy vegetables. “Fresh” and “local” cease to be marketing words; there is nothing more rewarding then eating the fruits of your labor.”

Ms. Crawford, along with Dr. Daley and Ms. Nussinow, all agree that once you make fresh home grown produce the focus, the calories will decrease and nutrient density will increase with every meal.

To determine the best way to incorporate your home vegetable garden with you and your family’s healthy eating style, evaluate a few areas first, so says nutrition expert and author of the book Nutrition Simplified: A Realistic 7 Step Workbook to Jump Start Your Metabolism , Betsy Markle, RD.

“What are the fruits and veggies the individual likes/dislikes? Are there any particular meals or foods that they would like to make? For instance, I love making my own salsa so I try to plant most of those ingredients. How much space do they have? How much time do they have to spend on their garden? Where do they live (weather/garden time period)?” says Betsy. You must be able to honestly plan this out in order to make it be affective and work.

If you can walk into your doctor’s office and get a prescription for pains and aches why not get a prescription from your doctor to grow your own fruits and vegetables? Maybe if more doctor’s made this prescription a staple to every office visit, more people would live a healthier lifestyle.