We’re told that as part of a healthy diet we must try to eat at least 5 fruit and vegetable portions every day. In fact we’re made to feel positively guilty if we aren’t achieving this on a daily basis. It can seem quite difficult to reach 5 portions EVERY day, but actually, it’s a lot easier than you might think. I’m going to attempt to show you different ways you can get fruit and vegetables into diet without you really noticing….
First things first::.
Did you know that your fruit and veg doesn’t have to be fresh in order to count towards your 5 a day? Nor do you have to eat them on their own. Here’s a quick run down of things that count towards your portions:
- fresh fruit and veg (obviously!)
- frozen fruit and vegetables
- tinned or canned fruit and veg (try to get the ones tinned with natural juices or water rather than sugars!)
- dried fruit, such as currants and figs
- fruit and veg cooked in dishes such as soups and pastas (did you know half a can of heniz spaghetti hoops counts as 1 of your 5 day!)
- a glass of unsweetened fruit juice (note: this only counts as a maximum of 1 of your 5 a day no matter how much you drink)
- smoothies (smoothies count up to a maximum of 2 portions)
- beans and pulses (again only count as a maximum of 1 of your 5 because they contain fewer nutrients than other fruit and veg)
- fruit and veg in convenience foods such as ready made meals etc. (it should say on the packet whether it counts towards your fruit and veg portions but be careful with these, some ready meals are high in salt, sugars and fats. So don’t use these as a regular substitute for fruit and veg. Remember to always check labels!)
-tricks of the trade
So how can we manage to get all of these things into our diet daily? Easy! Just follow some of these easy tricks:
- Chuck some beans in your curry, put some peas or broccoli in with your pasta, throw some chick peas or butter beans in your soups
- Top your cereal with fruit (fresh or frozen- make sure you defrost though!) berries and bananas work beautifully!
- In stead of snacking on crisps why not try an apple? Or a banana? Or perhaps some dried fruit? A little pack of raisins goes a long way.
- Have a side salad with your meal instead of chips. Dress it up nicely and it’ll look just as tasty as a greasy fried potato!
- Instead of your morning coffee try some orange juice. Or cranberry. Or apple. Or apple and elderberry. Or ruby breakfast. Or any other type of juice you like. It’s such a quick and easy way portion maker and won’t leave you with nasty coffee breath.
- Buy a blender and make your own smoothies! There’s so many different combinations of smoothies you can try and you can have some real fun creating your own concoctions and they can count as 2 portions. Thus, if you have a smoothie for breakfast you’re almost half way there before you’ve opened your eyes properly.
- REMEMBER: to get the most benefit out of your portions try eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. I like to make sure whatever meal I’m cooking has a least two colours of F+V in it. Then I know I’m getting lots of different nutrients.
If you make sure to change some of daily habits with the tricks above you’ll be laughing your way to a happy and healthier life and won’t have to apologise to your poor long suffering tummy for filling it with junk!
Just a quick note here on potatoes: Potatoes, as lovely as they are, DON’T COUNT as a portion of your five a day. Nor do yams, cassava, and plantains. They are considered starchy foods. Other root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, parsnips, swedes and turnips DO count!
However, whilst potatoes don’t count as part of your five a day, they aren’t all bad. In fact they do help to play an important role in your diet. They are a good source of energy, fibre, B vitamins and potassium. (As long as your not suffocating your potatoes in salt and oil, they are an excellent choice of starchy food!)
I hope this helps!