YES, friends, after the holidays, what? We look in the mirror and notice that there seems to be plumpness in our faces, some bulges on our belly, and feel that we're a little quite difficulty or harshness in breathing.

As we take our step in the weighing scale, we see that the index has move upward, to a newer and an increase gram. And so part of the resolve we make is to go back to having a simple eating lifestyle, and take the

much needed exercise.

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So we instruct our house help to prepare for us the simple "laswa" or stewed veggies. We have the malunggay, squash, okra, eggplant and all other greenies take the center piece of our gourmet list. We all become

instant vegetarians! The vegetarian lifestyle, as the avid follower would avow, has more benefits than we can imagine. Benefits like potentially preventing cancer through intake of antioxidants or boosting the body's

immune system through consumption of vitamins found in fruit and veggies have been well documented. There's a plenty of scientific evidences from different researches supporting the claim of the health benefits we

can get from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies are brimming with disease-fighting phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, water, complex carbohydrates, and protein. Not only that,

but they're naturally low in sodium and calories, cholesterol-free and virtually fat-free. "A balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables is our best defense against obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers,

and other chronic diseases," says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of The Pocket Idiot's Guide to the New Food Pyramids. "It's also important to eat a rainbow serving of colored fruits and vegetables every day," Ward

says.

The pigments in fruit and veggies act as antioxidants -- helping to rid our body of "free radicals," that can damage our body cells. And with the study that two-thirds of American adults are overweight, the weight-control

benefits of fruits and veggies are also especially important. Fruits and vegetables contain plenty of fiber and water to help us feel full, and thus prevent us from overeating. Substituting fruits and vegetables for our

"empty calorie" foods that offer little nutritional value can really make a difference in our weight, says Elizabeth Pivonka, president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit Produce for Better Health Foundation.

Beyond that, Pivonka says, fruits and vegetables can simply help us feel better."In our consumer research, we found that people who ate lots of fruits and vegetables had more energy and felt better," says Pivonka.

And friends, do you know that besides the personal benefits of being fit, healthy, lean and slim, from eating veggies as opposed to eating meat also, the former also offer a lot of plus points for the environment?

Vegetables don't use the energy that meat does! Vegetables, from start to finish, use less energy. Remember our lessons in our Biology class? Plants cook their own food! Vegetables are also lighter in weight, don't

require feeding of oats, grains or hay like live animals do, and can be stacked much more efficiently in boxes or baskets for transport than the heavy livestock. The transport of these vegetables from a farm in our local

area also results in less energy consumed (gasoline, manpower and all), and a fresher product arrives to our pantry in less transit time. This means that having fruits and vegetables on our table means having more

fresh, and less preserved food fare for our bodies.

So, are we all resolved to shed off those unwanted pounds, be fit and make the fruits and the veggies a part of our daily meal? Look here. Under the U.S. government's latest food guidelines, five servings of fruits and

vegetables may not be enough. Adults need anywhere from 7-13 cups of fruits and vegetables to protect them from (again!) obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

How can we hope to eat as many as 7-13 cups of fruit and veggie serving daily? Elizabeth Ward, of The Pocket Idiot's Guide to the New Food Pyramids offers the following suggestions:

1) Buy fresh produce in season;

2) Always keep a stash of vegetables on hand, to toss into soups, salads, stews, and egg dishes or to microwave for an easy side dish;

3) Splurge on pre-washed, pre-cut fruits and veggies. "They are more expensive, but if you consider the waste when washing and cleaning produce, it makes them roughly equal" says Ward;

4) Experiment with new types of fruits and veggies. Remember that just because you didn't like certain fruits and veggies as a child doesn't mean you won't like them now. "Your taste buds change, and you will be

pleasantly surprised if you give them another chance," says Ward;

5) Vary the texture. Kids tend to like raw, crunchy fruits and veggies with low-fat dip. Try shredding veggies to top sandwiches or salads;

6) Choose sweet potatoes over white potatoes for more potassium and beta carotene;

7) Go easy on sauces. Instead, flavor vegetables with fresh or dried herbs and a splash of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar;

8) Eat a salad full of fruits and/or veggies each night with dinner. Just go easy on the dressing and high-fat toppings;

9) Chop, dice, or shred vegetables into muffins, stews, lasagna, meatloaf, and casseroles;

10) Use pureed vegetables to thicken soups, stews, gravies, and casseroles;

11) Decorate plates with edible garnishes, like cucumber twists, red pepper strips, or cantaloupe slices;

12) Keep a bowl of fruit on the counter and some cut-up vegetables in the refrigerator for healthy snacks;

13) Whole or cut-up fruit has the added benefit of fiber;

14) At breakfast, add fruit to yogurt, pancakes, waffles, or cereal; 15) Freeze grapes and bananas for a refreshing and cool treat.

Green, and many more like red, gold, yellow can be the colors of the holidays. But green and the other colors can also be translated to the kind of fruits and veggies we can include in our menu for a better, healthier

lifestyle this 2010, and the coming years ahead. So, after the holidays, go green. A healthier week ahead of us. God bless.