Balanced Garden, Balanced Diet
Planting a garden can be the perfect way to get some outdoor exercise in your own backyard during medical weight loss. But in addition to providing a great workout, growing your own fruits and vegetables can help you maintain a healthy and balanced diet by providing a consistent supply of fresh, home-grown produce.
Enjoying the delicious fruits of your labor with your friends and family can be a rewarding experience, but if you’ve never planted before or don’t think you have the green thumb, you may be having trouble figuring out how to get started. Planting your garden can be simple—all you need to do is plan out things like:
Where to Plant
If you live in a house, you may have plenty of room in your yard. For the best results, you should make sure that your gardening plot is close to a water source and gets about six to eight hours of sunlight every day. Also, remember that gardening is a lot of work—though you may want to transform your entire yard into an edible Eden, it’s best to start with an area no bigger than 10 feet by 10 feet.
If you live in an apartment, you can still make your own garden a reality, but you may need to get a bit more creative. Look for a community garden in your area, where you can rent a small plot to plant whatever you like. A community garden is also a great place to socialize and share tips with other gardeners. If there isn’t a community garden in your area, try planting some vegetables in containers and keeping them on a porch or balcony, or in a sunny room.
What to Plant
Your selection of plants will depend on the season, but it can also depend on the nutrients that each plant provides. Planting fruits and vegetables that provide a variety of vitamins and minerals can help you grow well-balanced meals as you lose weight. Here’s a quick guide of which plants are the best sources of each nutrient and what each one of them will do for your body:
- Vitamin A: Crucial in maintaining vision, reproduction and bone growth, you can get a little Vitamin A in your garden by planting spinach, tomatoes, cantaloupe, carrots or kale.
- Vitamin B6: This versatile nutrient is involved in protein metabolism, cognitive development, immune function and the formation of hemoglobin. Potatoes, garbanzo beans and sunflower seeds are all great, easily grown sources of Vitamin B6.
- Vitamin C: Perhaps best known for its importance to the immune system, Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from free radical damage. Great garden sources of Vitamin C are cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, and sweet peppers.
- Calcium: Used to maintain strong bones and support the structure and solidity of bones and teeth, calcium can be found in vegetables like spinach, broccoli, kale and turnip greens.
- Vitamin E: Also an antioxidant and immune booster, Vitamin E can be grown in spinach, broccoli, peanuts and sunflower seeds.
- Folate: A B vitamin that helps maintain and produce new cells, folate can typically be found in green veggies like asparagus, spinach and green peas.
- Iron: An essential part of many healthy proteins, iron is involved in the body’s transportation of oxygen and the growth and regulation of new cells. For iron, grow things like potatoes, garbanzo beans, kidney beans or spinach.
- Magnesium: Heavily involved in the body’s biochemical reactions, magnesium helps to maintain the function of muscles, nerves and the immune system regulates heartbeat and blood sugar levels and sustains strong bones. Good sources of magnesium include spinach, potatoes, soybeans, pinto beans, kidney beans and black-eyed peas.
As you may have noticed, many of these vegetables made more than one list and are excellent sources of multiple essential nutrients. If you’re pressed for space or time, growing nutrient-rich plants like spinach may be the best bet in maximizing the nutrient content of your home garden.