We’ve all heard the five-a-day message about how much we should be eating when it comes to our fruit and vegetable intake. But this is the bare minimum amount of fruits and veggies we need to be eating for good health, and most adults only manage an average of two portions a day! When our fruit and vegetable intake is low we’re unlikely to get enough fibre and potassium in our diet and will be missing out on a wealth of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients essential for health.
Aim for seven to ten portions per day, increasing your intake gradually over a few days to a week, and opt for a variety of colours to ensure you’re getting a range of all the important nutrients. It’s important to stay hydrated too as you eat more fibre, aiming to drink 1.5 to 3 litres of fluid per day. Lemon and water is a great way to hydrated throughout the day with many extra health benefits.
Shift your focus to basing your meals and snacks around vegetables and fruits and then from there add in your slow releasing carbohydrates, plant-based proteins and healthy fats to complete the meal. When we fill our plate with carbohydrates and protein first, vegetables and fruits tend to be an afterthought or don’t really fit with the meal or snack choice…over-cooked, bland veg forced on the side of the plate sound familiar?
Eight Ways to Eating Eight Portions of Fruits and Vegetables a Day
- Start early. Include at least one portion of fruit and vegetables at breakfast. Try topping your porridge or cereal with a chopped banana or sliced apple, make a fresh smoothie, or for a savoury option how about a plant based grilled breakfast of beans, dry fried mushrooms and onion, tomatoes and spinach.
- Ensure every meal and snack contains fruit and/or vegetables, that way you’ll be clocking up your portions throughout the day rather than getting to the end of the day and realising you only had a couple of portions (if any) during the day and now it’s unlikely you’ll get them all in to your last meal. Also this way your fibre intake is spread throughout the day, your digestive system will appreciate this! Aim for 2 portions at main meals and one portion for snacks.
- Make veggie sticks for having with dips such as hummus instead of having bread sticks or crackers.
- Smoothies are an easy way to get in lots of fruits and veggies. Avoid shop bought smoothies (and juices) as these are all pasteurised and often made from purees or concentrates making them higher in sugars and lower in nutrients. Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables can be used.
- Add extra vegetables such as peas, peppers and courgettes to curries and other sauce based meals. It’s an easy way to sneak in extra vegetables without really noticing.
- Carry fresh/dried fruit or cherry tomatoes in your bag for on the go healthy snacking.
- Make your lunch at home to take into work so you have more freedom to add lots more veggies, especially leafy greens.
- Freeze bananas for a healthy ‘nice-cream’ dessert and top with chopped nuts and dates.
How many portions a day are you getting in? And what are your favourite ways to get more nourishing fruits and veggies into your daily diet?