Whether you love them, or hate them, everyone knows, fruit and veggies are essential for great health.
I absolutely love salads and fruit, and enjoy most vegetables, too. But, enjoying vegetables is quite a recent thing, so I completely understand the dilemma some people face in trying to meet the recommended guidelines.
So, for the benefit of those who share this problem, here are some tips to increase your intake of fruit and vegetables.
Aim for at least 3 portions of vegetables and 2-3 portions of fruit each day. There are so many varieties to choose from, and you can eat them fresh, frozen, canned, dried or as pure fruit or vegetable juice.
What is a portion?
- 1 whole medium fruit (apple, orange, banana)
- 2 small fruits, or a cup of very small fruits (2 kiwis, cup of grapes)
- 1 piece of a larger fruit (wedge of melon, half an avocado)
- Â½ tablespoon of dried fruit (dates, sultanas)
- 2 tablespoons of raw, cooked, frozen or canned vegetables
- 1 bowl of salad
- 1 small glass of pure fruit or vegetable juice (150mls)
Top ten tips for increasing your fruit and vegetable intake:
- Start your day with a small glass of pure fruit or vegetable juice
- Top cereal with fresh or dried fruit (banana, blueberries, or raisins, apricots), or have a banana with wholegrain toast
- Have a salad with lunch – you may want to add carrots, shredded cabbage, or spinach leaves for extra variety. Or if you’re having a sandwich, always try to add lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions etc
- Add extra vegetables to your favourite dishes – stews, soups, curries, casseroles. They can be disguised by chopping very finely or you could grate them into dishes. Including extra vegetables will also add ‘bulk’ your meals, which will help you to feel fuller for longer
- Always serve at least one vegetable with your evening meal – microwave quickly to cook vegetables or potatoes; this will help to retain their nutrients. Try grilling or baking vegetables (butternut squash, eggplant, tomatoes, sweet potato, red or green peppers) for added diversity
- Snack on fresh or dried fruit (apples, oranges, grapes, or dried currants, raisins) or have vegetables (cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, broccoli, or some red, yellow or green pepper) with low-fat hummus
- For a quick energy boost make a fruit smoothie – blend together pure fruit juice, diet yogurt, fruit of your choice and crushed ice
- Always display your fruit bowl in a visible position in your kitchen. Keep it well stocked with various fruits. This will be a constant reminder of your goals
- Have fruit or vegetables prepared in containers, keep them in your fridge, so that you can easily access them when hungry. You could also buy ready-to-eat packaged fresh vegetables, stir-frys and salad leaves, as these are a huge time saver
- Keep your cupboards and fridge well stocked with fresh, frozen and canned fruit and vegetables; to reduce your chances of falling back into old habits
Remember to limit peeling to preserve fibre content of vegetables. Steam, boil or microwave quickly in a small amount of water, and serve foods promptly to stop them losing nutrients
To get the maximum benefit from the fibre, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, you need to eat a variety of different fruits and vegetables.
Don’t forget that eating a range of fruits and vegetables each day can also help you if you struggle with weight loss.
Aim to include lots of different colors and types each day; why not try a new fruit or vegetable each week? Go on, experience the difference a little colour can make in your life – taste the rainbow!