Daily Dozen Challenge: What I Learned
For the past week, I took the Daily Dozen Challenge. This challenge and the daily dozen idea was created by Dr. Greger – a plant-based advocate who partners with NutritionFacts.org for this challenge.
The idea was simple: Download the Daily Dozen app and work to check off all the boxes each day.
The items to check off are mostly food-related, meaning you aim to get a certain number of servings of certain foods each day.
Here are the items:
Beans – 3 servings
Berries – 1 serving
Other fruits – 3 servings
Cruciferous vegetables – 1 serving
Greens – 2 servings
Other vegetables – 2 servings
Flaxseeds – 1 serving
Nuts – 1 serving
Spices – 1 serving
Whole grains – 3 servings
Beverages – 5 servings
Exercise – 1 x per day
The idea of the checklist is to help you incorporate those longevity foods into your diet so you get in the habit of eating healthier. With the Vitamin D item, it is also reminding you to spend time outdoors.
What I Learned
So, during the week, I can honestly say, I never got all 12 completely checked off. I might have had two servings of beans, one serving of cruciferous, and perhaps some nuts and greens. However, fitting every single serving into my day proved to be difficult!
However, even though I did not reach the goals each day. I realized that I could get at least two servings of beans each day, so that has become a new goal for me. I even planned adding beans into my meal prepping by making breakfast tacos to include eggs with turmeric (spices), beans (check!) with avocado salsa (spinach added – greens, check), and onions (other veg). So, from that one meal, I check off several of the boxes. Planning ahead for the win!
Then, for lunches I made a big batch of rice with garlic and cilantro. Then I could top the rice with black beans, broccoli, green avocado salsa, or other items. I count the rice as a whole grain. And, boom – after lunch I already have two servings of beans, as well as some other boxes checked off!
Dinner is more of a hit or miss during this season. Between work events, sporting events, and the general chaos of the end of school, we struggle to really focus on dinner. I meal prep on Sundays, so I generally have 2-3 meals ready to heat and eat in the fridge. This week, I tried to get beans or cruciferous into those meals.
Pasta with pesto and beans is delicious and I am hoping it is something my kids warm up to because it is a quick and easy way to get greens in!
Tacos or quesadillas is another family favorite and I can get some black beans into the filling!
So, bottom line – with some planning, you can achieve a good chunk of the Daily Dozen.
Where I Struggle
The Daily Dozen is a great tool to help you keep track of your servings of these healthy foods. However, I basically decided from the beginning that Flaxseeds were not going to ever be checked off. It is just not something I have at the house or really can get into my current meal prepping.
When I was drinking smoothies regularly, I could see throwing some ground flaxseeds in there. However, these days, I only make smoothies on the weekends generally … if at all. Maybe I will try to get back into that habit next week!
And, if I can find a way to have a daily smoothie with flaxseeds, I can also throw in some spinach and blueberries and check off two more items from the list! And, if I blend with a nut milk, perhaps I can check off nuts as well. Winning!
Vitamin B12. I guess this vitamin is on the list because many vegans often have a B12 deficiency. B12 is important for circulatory system health.
According to Dr. Greger, eggs and dairy are not optimal sources of B12 as you may have thought (you would have to eat hundreds of eggs a day to get the recommended amount of B12 – yikes). He recommends a once-a-week supplement of at least 2,500 mcg (source: https://nutritionfacts.org/questions/what-is-the-best-way-to-get-b12) or foods fortified with B12 such as cereal. A simple bowl of Cheerios could add the B12 you need (watch the video: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/cheapest-source-of-vitamin-b12).
I can’t add another breakfast to my day, so what am I to do? I guess I will look for a supplement with B12. Then I thought – what about the daily multivitamin I already take? Sure enough, right there on the nutrition label is Vitamin B12 – 8 mcg per day. Dr. Greger points out that you only need about 4 mcg per day, so I am checking this off as a success!
You might notice that I have not mentioned exercise. Often people who live to be 100 will tell you that they never belonged to a gym. They didn’t do hard-core exercises, run ultra marathons, or even lift weights daily. What they did was move naturally and regularly throughout the day, worked on their homes and gardens, and were generally less sedentary that many of us are today.
While I might consider my daily movement to be exercise, I am not sure Dr. Greger would agree, so I am just skipping that item all together! Hopefully, now that the weather is nice, I will be able to get in regular 30 minutes to an hour of walking each day, plus gardening and working on the house. Did you know mowing the lawn and cleaning the house burns a bunch of calories?
To Your Health!