How to Up Your Vegetables


Unless you live in a cave you are likely to be aware that we are meant to eat 5 portions of fruits and vegetables per day………….but is it that simple?

According to the WHO we should eat more than 400g of fruits and vegetables daily which is the equivalent of 5 or more portions per day.
However, a 2017 review by the Imperial College London of 95 different studies highlighted that 5 reduces risk of disease BUT greatest benefits came from eating 800g (10 per day) and that as many as 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide could be prevented from eating 10 per day!  To save that many premature deaths by simply eating a bit more fruit and vegetables is bonkers – and so easy!



So 10 portions of fruits and vegetables is definitely what we should all be aiming to eat every day. Aside from potentially preventing death, a high fruit and veg intake is also thought to be associated with:
– good digestive health (better pooping!)
– better immune health
– improved mood
– more optimal weight management
– optimal cardiovascular health
– better energy

When I mention eating “10 a day” most people fall off their chair and tell me how impossible that is….but it really isn’t! With a bit of planning it can be done and become second nature very quickly.

However, the one thing you can’t do is to bung 10 different fruits and veg in a blender and make a smoothie and think you are done – you sadly don’t get anything other than a sugar rush and possibly a dash to the loo from that!  Juicing breaks down rgw fivre in fruits and vegetables and that’s the bit where all the slow release goodness is.  Without that it goes through you too quickly and it releases sugars which get into your blood stream too quickly.  So, it’s 10 per day and they must be eaten whole or chopped up as part of a meal.



Here is a list of foods that you shouldn’t count within the 10 per day:

  • White potatoes
  • Any dried fruit….including those awful fruit paws, winders and yoghurt coated things given to children!
  • Fruit flavoured products – drinks, yoghurts etc
  • Juices and smoothies
  • Jams, chutneys and sauces like ketchup
  • Tinned fruits that are in syrup
  • Outside that pretty much all other fruits and vegetables count



Here are a few rules about fruit and vegetable intake to help you with the buying and the planning

  • Limit fruit to 2 (maximum 3) portions per day – the majority should come from vegetables
  • You should aim to eat the rainbow every day – this means that the fruits and vegetables you eat should be all different colours as that broadens the number of nutrients that you are ingesting
  • You should limit root vegetables to 2 portions per day as they are high in sugars
  • A portion is around 80g
  • Fresh and frozen herbs count!
  • Frozen fruits and vegetables count – and are great as they are often higher in nutritional value than fresh varieties as they are frozen so quickly after picking.  It also means waste is reduced as you only cook what you need
  • All the fruits and vegetables (unless you aren’t eating the peel) need to be wash to rid them of the pesticides as they are likely to undo some of the good you are doing by eating them in the first place
  • As mentioned before – no juicing them all
  • No deep frying it all either!



So, now onto how you can actually achieve 10 per day in a typical day.

1. Well, the main thing is planning

Writing out exactly what meals you are going to have each week means that you can buy just the foods that you need to and on a day to day basis it’s less time wondering what on earth you are going to create that day!  I have actually created a planner to help you achieve this and it’s available to purchase here

2. Make sure that you have some fruits or vegetables with every meal – then it’s not one monster plate of vegetables but rather spread evenly throughout the day.

For example

BREAKFAST – Try porridge topped with 2 different types of berries or if you have eggs then an omelette could have tomatoes or mushrooms or peppers chopped in it and have spinach on the side

LUNCH – chunky soups or large salads are an easy way to add plenty to lunch – with a soup adding carrot, beans, celery, onion, tomatoes, peas etc all work or with a salad having anything like grated carrot, shredded cabbage, cucumber, lettuce leaves, avocado, tomatoes, peppers, bean sprouts, mango, pomegranate seeds etc.  Then you can always finish off with an apple or orange

DINNER – I actually heard someone recently tell me that they only considered vegetables at dinner time so perhaps this is the easiest one.  Roasted vegetables are an easy peasy option – my favourites to roast include asparagus, sprouts (yep!!), cauliflower, beetroot, peppers, tomatoes, butternut squash, sweet potato, onions, aubergine, courgette…..and I like to make too much so that I have left overs for adding to a salad the next day.  Serve the hot veg with fish, meat or even grilled halloumi.  If you are more of a curry person then add in cauliflower, peas and spinach to base curries.  Pudding, if essential, might be some stewed fruit or a few berries.

3. I’m not a fan of snacking and don’t like to endorse it – we really shouldn’t need to if we are eating well.  However, if you do need to then you can always opt for a rainbow of vegetable sticks with a protein rich dip like hummus or tahini or nut butter or you can go for some fresh fruit and a small handful (around 25g) of nuts

4. Keep a tally of what you are eating so that you know how “veg heavy” your meals need to be and that you are eating that rainbow



So there you have it.  Eating 10 a day doesn’t need to be a mammoth task.  With planning and some determination from you and your family it can be achieved quite easily.  I am really trying to be more consistent with this with my family in 2019 because ultimately I want to be one of those people who lives for a lovely long time!

Janet x

Janet Padfield

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