Fewer than 13% of adults eat as much fruits and vegetables as they should, according to the C.D.C. And that’s largely because, for many of us, it feels stressful and challenging to do so. But nutrition expert Joy Bauer, R.D.N., says it’s not actually as hard as you may think. She shares her science-backed, realistic plans for nutritious meals on “The TODAY Show” each week. Here, she tells Thrive her best advice for making healthier choices — these small steps can lead to big results.

Add one vegetable into every meal

“Veggies are high in volume and low in calories, so they help to fill you up without filling you out. They’re also packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to keep your body healthy and strong. Plus, they’re a terrific source of fiber to lower cholesterol and balance blood sugar, which is important for reducing your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other concerning health conditions. Try a veggie-loaded omelet for breakfast, a salad of leafy greens topped with chickpeas and chicken at lunch, and a lean protein like fish, pork tenderloin, or lentils with roasted veggies (think mushrooms, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and more!) for dinner.”

Take a few more steps each day

“An overall goal of shooting for 10,000 steps a day is a great way to ensure you get ample exercise. (That number works out to be about five miles!) Sure, it helps you burn calories and tone your muscles, but more importantly, regular physical activity will elevate your mood, get your blood flowing, keep your heart strong, boost your immune system, lower your risk for chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, and puts you in a positive mindset to stick to a healthy lifestyle. We receive endless payback for such a simple commitment!”

Set short-term goals

“I think long-term goals are terrific, but short-term goals can be even more powerful because they reinforce success every step of the way — and continually fuel our motivation. They should be concrete and obtainable. For example, one week, try a new fitness class, or experiment with an unfamiliar fruit or vegetable, or brown-bag your lunch to work. Or you may decide to try two new healthy recipes for dinner that week, include a produce pick at each meal, or decide to drink more water throughout the day. And be sure to celebrate every mini-achievement, so you are reminded that your hard work is paying off… and you’re getting closer and closer to your ultimate finish line. Manis/pedis, facials, new fitness gear — come up with non-food prizes to stay motivated.”

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