7 portions of fruit and veg a day…not quite something we’re used to hearing. For years, the ‘5-A-Day’ mantra has been said over and over again, and more often than not is met with one of the three complains I’m going to talk about below. However, this morning some new research was released to the press suggesting that, in fact, 7 portions per day is actually ideal to help prevent a whole host of nasty illnesses that come along with a bad diet. Now I’m not a nutritionist, but I am an interested individual with some well-informed views on the matter…
Let me set the scene – I am a vegetarian (have been since the age of 9) and I eat a LOT of fruit and veg. My diet it not perfect (my biggest weakness is cheese, and I like a good pint) but day to day, it ain’t bad. I would estimate that around 65% of my diet is made up of fruit and veg, and I’d like it to be more around the 75% mark. Since adding more into my diet, I’ve lost weight, spent less and felt better than ever. By the way, when I say ‘diet’ I don’t mean it in the sense of ‘going on a diet’. It is my lifestyle. Eating fruit and veg should never be considered a ‘diet’ – it should be as commonplace and normal as washing your knickers or checking Facebook (strange analogy, but you get what I mean). I’m going to run through some of the most common negative reactions to the’ 7 portions’ message I’ve seen so far, and let you know why I think they’re…wait for it…bananas.
“I can’t afford to eat more fruit and vegetables”
Yes, you can. If you can afford to buy food, you can afford to buy fruit and veg. Now here’s where we get to the real heart of the issue – if you’re planning to buy extra fruit and veg on top of all the other food you buy on a regular basis, then naturally that will be more expensive. However, if you think like that you’re totally missing the point. The idea isn’t to eat a ton of fruit and veg alongside what you’re eating now – it’s to replace processed, unhealthy foods with fresh, whole foods.
Let me put this into a real-life situation. Take Aldi for example – they have a HUGE array of fruits and vegetables on offer, and by ‘offer’ I mean ‘cheap’. When I have the money I do prefer to buy organic from places like Sainsbury’s, but I’m using Aldi for the sake of argument. They have a weekly Super 6 offer featuring great deals on 6 items of fruit and veg – this week’s deal includes things like carrots, celery and lettuce from 59p per bag/bunch/serving. One bag of 59p carrots can provide 7 day’s worth of healthy snack portions. However, a pack of ‘Dreemy’ bars (a Milky Way dupe) costs 89p and can also act as snack portions for the same amount of time. It’s such a simple substitution, and is far more a matter of willpower than price. For many people, I think that’s the sticking point – once you start to see a bowl of strawberries as a delicious treat, crappy chocolate bars seem like a thing of the happily distance past.
“There’s no way I can fit 7 portions into my daily diet!”
Yes, you can. It just takes a bit of thought and preparation. In fact, I believe this so much that I’ve outlined a typical day’s worth of my own food intake below, so you can see how simple it is:
- Breakfast – Overnight oats with chopped banana and raspberries on the side (2 portions)
- Post-workout/mid-morning snack – Apple and handful of cashews (1 portion)
- Lunch – Homemade mushroom and leek soup & 2 Quorn cocktail sausages (2 portions)
- Afternoon snack – Strawberries (1 portion)
- Dinner – Quorn burger, sweet potato wedges, homemade guacamole (2 portions)
That totals 8 portions, and that’s a pretty average day. Sure, I may throw a little light halloumi on top of the veggie burger and sneak a biscuit to have with an afternoon brew, but I’m getting so much nourishment from the fruit and veg that I don’t need to go overboard. Do some simple things like chopping up carrot sticks and cucumber for easy snacks, and make your oats the night before. Head to the fruit and veg aisles in the supermarket first and stock up on those before thinking about packing your trolly full of processed crap. It’s so much easier than you think once you get started.
“I can’t find the time for all of this fruit and veg nonsense”
Yes, you can. How many hours per day do you spent watching YouTube videos or Netflix? Take just 5 minutes here and there to prepare your food instead of relying on packets, jars and bottles – it’s actually really satisfying. I used to think I couldn’t cook to save my life, and lived on ready meals and dinners out. I also happened to put on 2 stone in a few months living that way…so yeah. It didn’t work. And I can cook, because I took the time to learn the basics.
It’s been a slow process for me, but I’d say since late last year I’ve really appreciated the value of fruit and veg. It’s amazing – as weird as that sounds, I actually love it. Who’d have thought that something that grows in the ground or on a tree could provide your body with the nourishment it needs? In the past, not me. Now, nothing makes more total and utter sense.
Before I finish up, I want to say one more thing. DO NOT waste your time listening to the utter rubbish reported in certain so-called ‘news’papers demonising fruit. Go forth and chomp on berries, bananas and whatever other fruity goodness your heart desires. It I read one more article comparing the calories in a fresh smoothie to that of a doughnut my head may explode. And that would be very messy. There’s no comparison – choose fruit and veg. You can do it!
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave me a comment below!