Eat your veggies (and fruit!)

Last month, clinical dietitian Christina Gross, M.P.H., R.D., L.D., spoke at the OHSU Doernbecher Cancer Survivors Clinic Support Group to discussion nutrition for cancer survivors ages 18-40. Below, she shares some tips for healthy eating that everyone should follow.

Is it really possible to get the recommended 5 to 9 servings of fruit and veggies every day?

First of all: Yes, it is possible and it can be easier than you think if you give it a little planning and forethought! Eating fruits and vegetables is part of a healthy diet; no one can argue with that. There are so many benefits – from cancer prevention and chronic disease prevention to weight control. You can eat them raw, cooked, frozen or canned – they all count!

What does a serving of fruit or vegetables look like?

A serving of fruit is:

  • 1 cup diced/cut or
  • 1 small piece or
  • 2 tablespoons dried fruit.

For example: One cup of berries or melon or one apple or banana or two tablespoons of raisins. Aim for 2-3 servings of fruits a day. Limit your consumption of 100 percent fruit juice – it’s always better to eat the whole fruit! Also, watch your intake of dried fruit, as it’s very high in sugar. Having a fruit as one of your snacks, plus one at breakfast and one at lunch is a great way to meet this requirement.

A serving of a vegetable is:

  • 1 cup raw or cooked or
  • 2 cups of raw, leafy greens.

For example: One cup of carrot sticks, cooked spinach or broccoli, or two cups of raw spinach would be one serving each. Aim to get 3-4 (preferably more) servings of vegetables a day. Having 1-2 vegetable servings with your meals and part of one snack will get you to this recommendation.

What would this look like for a typical day of eating?

To achieve the recommended servings, let’s take a look at our meals and snacks. Three meals a day and two snacks with a fruit or vegetable at each one would give us five servings at a minimum. If you aim to have half of your plate filled with vegetables and fruit then you can actually get up to eight or nine servings quite easily. Here’s what it could look like:

  • Breakfast: 1 or 2 slices of whole grain bread with 1 egg, ½ avocado and ½ cup spinach (1 serving of vegetables), plus 1 apple (1 serving of fruit)
  • Snack: 1 cup yogurt with 1 cup berries (1 serving of fruit)
  • Lunch: 2 cups leafy greens salad with 1 cup chopped veggies, chicken breast and salad dressing (2 servings of vegetables)
  • Snack: 1 cup raw baby carrots (about 12) with hummus (1 serving of vegetables)
  • Dinner: 1 cup cooked broccoli, salmon, brown rice (1 serving of vegetables)
  • Snack (optional): 1 piece of fruit with 1 slice of cheese (1 serving of fruit)


Total Servings of Fruits = 3
Total servings of Vegetables = 5

This makes a grand total of EIGHT servings of fruits and vegetables in a day! You did it!


Do you have a nutrition question for one of our dietitians? Leave a comment below and we’ll get you an answer!


Christina GrossChristina Gross, M.P.H., R.D., L.D.
OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital