Wait, Doc. That’s My Prescription? Fruits & Veggies?

In the 1991 comedy movie What About Bob?, psychologist Leo Marvin writes a prescription for his neurotic patient, Bob Wiley.

Bob, played by Bill Murray, worries how he will cope while his shrink (Richard Dreyfuss), is on vacation. He is expecting a drug prescription to calm his nerves.

Instead, the prescription Bob gets says, “Take a vacation from your problems.” Bob quickly realizes this will not require a trip to the pharmacy.

In real life, some patients show surprise these days when handed a prescription. Especially when it prescribes nothing more than fruits and vegetables.

New Prescription Program Is Working

The recipients of these prescriptions may feel “cheated.” After all, they can pick up fruits and veggies at their local store.

But they do appreciate something else. These prescriptions are often accompanied by an electronic card or voucher. It’s good for accessing free or discounted produce at grocery stores or farmers’ markets.

The strategy is working. That’s what a recent study shows. It’s published by an American Heart Association journal titled Circulation.

The fruit and vegetable prescriptions result in greater consumption of these healthy foods. And the increased consumption results in improved health. Both in medical checkups and in self-reported health. As well as in lowering food insecurity.

It’s All About Long-Term Survival

Now, maybe your doctor has never handed you a prescription for fruits and vegetables. But that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from this idea.

Increasing your consumption of veggies and fruits should result in better health. Both in the short-term and in the future.

Here’s why that second part is so important. The more nutritious foods you eat now, the better health you’ll be in when stuff hits the fan.

Why develop improved food habits now? Because it will make you better equipped to survive a future crisis. Handling an emergency situation will be challenging on its own. Being in poor health when it happens will make it even more difficult.

Natural Solutions Work Best

Many people believe doctors could serve their patients better. How? By discussing and prescribing natural solutions to health problems. Rather than prescribing drugs.

For them, this produce prescription program is a step in the right direction. Patients are more likely to eat vegetables and fruits when “prescribed” to them.

This is true for patients with health issues connected to their diets. As well as for patients with a lack of nutritional access due to their budgets.

The program is convenient for many people. Because of the variety of places they can get fruits and vegetables. Including grocery stores and farmers’ markets. Plus online stores and mobile markets.

Prescriptions Increase Consumption

The study mentioned earlier involved approximately 3,800 participants. More than 2,000 were adults with an average age of 54.

About one-half of households participating in the survey reported experiencing some food insecurity.

Food insecurity is the condition of not having access to enough food. Or food of an adequate quality, to meet one’s basic needs.

The participants received an average of $63 per month for vegetables and fruits. Adults reported their intake of fruits and veggies increased by about one cup per day.

1 in 10 Not Good Odds

This is a program whose time has come. Especially considering only about 1 in 10 U.S. adults eats enough fruits and vegetables daily.

The CDC reports that only 12.3% of American adults eat enough fruit. And only 10% eat enough vegetables. Mostly due to cost and availability.

Those committed to preparing for an uncertain future should think seriously about this program.

Even if we don’t qualify for vouchers or discounts. But if you do qualify, why not take advantage of it?

Processed Food Is the Enemy

One of the biggest problems with not eating enough fruits and veggies is what we eat instead. That’s processed foods.

One study claims ultra-processed foods make up about 60% of the typical American’s diet. Now, that’s scary.

Processed food has been changed from its natural state. This can include everything from canning it, freezing it, and adding ingredients to it. Even baking and cooking can count as changing it.

Among unhealthy ingredients added to many foods we eat are salt and sugar. As well as flavorings, preservatives, and artificial colors. They are added to make food last longer and/or give them more visual appeal.

Consider Your Future When Making the Choice

One reason ultra-processed foods are so tempting is because they’re usually ready-to-eat. They’re simple and easy. They include ice cream and sodas. As well as processed meats, pizza, and potato chips. Plus cookies, candy bars, and sugary drinks.

And when we eat these foods between meals, we consume less healthy foods at mealtime. This is a habit we need to break. Both for our health now, and for our survival in the future.

As we age, our health becomes a bigger concern. It makes sense to eat enough healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables now.

When it comes to a survival situation, our health will be more important than ever. Getting into the right habit now will benefit us in the long run.

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