RULE: Eat fruits and vegetables at every meal.

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Thats fruitssssss and vegetablesssss. Plural intended.  Really, you could eat just fruitssssss and vegetablessss all day long and the weight would literally fall off (as long as the vegetation isn’t battered and fried or dipped in mayo or ranch dressing).  You wouldn’t even have to exercise.  Raw vegetables and real fruit are nature’s little gifts to us and our health. Packed with nutrients, vitamins, and POWERFUL stuff, F&Vs even possess medicinal properties.

Check it: components in most fruits and vegetables ward off dental disease, make skin look younger, and lower blood pressure!  And the benefits dont stop there! But wait! There’s more!  Eat 3-5 servings of vegetables a day and you’ll deter almost EVERY KIND OF CANCER! Thats right! EVERY…KIND..OF CANCER! Order your lifetime supply of vegetables today!

Corny Informercial buzz phrases aside, vegetables are seriously good for you, so I don’t care if you don’t like them. Learn to.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t eat more than 2 servings of vegetables annually until I was about 25.  The ones I did try, were initially pushed around my plate in protest.  Then I would reluctantly shave off the smallest portion I could manage to meet my lips.  Placement of the nearly microscopic morsel in to my mouth was quickly followed by violent wincing and head thrashing, as if I had just been forced to swallow a human heart. That was still beating.

So I think my parents gave up.

Once I matured, the “vegetables” I voluntarily selected, with far fewer theatrics, were usually in the form of a quiche, dip or casserole.  Safely surrounded by cheese, bread crumbs, eggs and more gooey hot cheese, I was able to stomach them. Enjoy them even. Well, actually I simply didn’t notice them, but figured they were somehow a necessary ingredient to the warm yummy concoctions of which I’d grown so fond.

I’m not sure how or when my less-than-sophisticated 20-something palate began to welcome raw vegetables. It was probably a slow transformation:

Phase 1 – buttery corn on the cob every 4th of July. (BTW corn is hardly a vegetable, but we’ll cover that later)

Phase 2 – I think I slipped in to accidentally when carrot sticks came as a side with my chicken fingers, all of which I dipped in Ranch.

Phase 3 – was eating an entire dinner salad on a bad date. Perhaps I found the salad more interesting than my dinner mate, so I slowly worked it down while feigning interest.

I could’ve stayed comfortably in Phase 3, having the occasional salad course at weddings or fancy dinners, not knowing the glory of vegetables, if it had not been for a vegetarian neighbor-friend with whom I attended a Thanksgiving dinner.  At that time, in my social circle, vegetarians were about as common as river dolphins.  But this vegetarian brought a parmesan and cauliflower dish disguised as mashed potatoes. Warm and savory, I fell for this delicious trap and was eventually catapulted to vegetable-loving levels far beyond.

Around the same time, my little sister, a progressive middle-schooler, had declared she was a vegetarian. Our parents rolled-their eyes, our mischievous younger brothers snuck pieces of meat into her separately-made dishes, and I was mildly embarrassed for her. I now know she was wise beyond her years.

Vegetables are magic. Eat them.

Sneak them in soups, pasta sauce, on pizza, in omelets.  Use them instead of noodles, chips or crackers.

Eat them at every meal!

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Madeleine Vanstory attended Duke University and began her post-graduate journey at The Elaine Clark Center working with special needs children. She went on to work as a Clinical Research Scientist running clinical trials for the CDC and developing medical devices for Welsh Allen, Abbot Labs, Roche and Johnson & Jonhson Her work included non-invansive cervical cancer detection, continuous diabetic glucose monitoring, non-harmful infant bilirubin level detection and studying Vitamin C's anti-aging effects on the skin. Madeleine attended Medical school at The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and completed a residency in Family Medicine at Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro NC. Dr. Madeleine Vanstory is a board certified Family Physician who has practiced all over the world. She has lead medical missions in Kenya and Honduras. She has participated with Operation Smile in Russia, she has patients in North Carolina, Maine, Oregon and New Zealand. Dr. Vanstory has worked the medical tents in the Marine Corps marathon in Washington DC and at the Kona Ironman World Championships. And Dr. Vanstory has marched with the Surgeon General promoting "Exercise is Medicine" at the World Congress Sports Medicine Conference. Disillusioned by the current health care system and armed with the realization that culture, nutrition and emotional well-being have a profound impact on health, Dr. Vanstory now motivates clients and patients to discover the healthiest versions of themselves through humor, counseling in her "Upgrade Your Health" Wellness Program.

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