How to incorporate more fruit and vegetables into our diet
What is the recommended fruit and vegetable intake?
It's recommended that you have at least five portions of a large variety of fresh fruit and vegetables every day. This will help you to get the nutrients that your body needs. As well as being packed with vitamins and minerals, fruit and veg contain fibre, which can help promote regular bowel movement. They are also low in calories, which may help to maintain a healthy weigh. Here are some examples of what makes up a portion of fruit or vegetables:
half a large grapefruit or avocado
an apple, orange, banana or medium-sized tomato
two plums or apricots
a handful of grapes or berries
a slice of melon or pineapple
a heaped tablespoon of dried fruit
three heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables or beans and pulses
a dessert bowl of salad
a 150ml glass of freshly squized fruit juice
All fruit and vegetables count, except potatoes, which belong to the starchy food group. Vegetables can be raw, whole or chopped, juiced, , steamed, roasted or cooked as part of a dish. Lightly steaming and grilling vegetables will retain more vitamins than boiling them.
Easy ways to eat more fruit and vegetables?
Here's how you can add more fruit and vegetables to your meals and snacks:
Mix together a muesli of whole oats, chopped apple, banana or other fresh fruit and dates or dried fruit.
Add some fresh or dried fruit to your usual cereal.
Try mashed banana, instead of sugary jam, on peanut butter whole grain toast.
Drink freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juice.
Make delicious smoothies with whole fruit and yoghurt or kefir.
Have chia seeds porridge with fresh fruit.
Make a chia seeds, milk, mashed banana and cacao powder morning chocolate pudding
Grill some mushrooms and tomatoes, and add baked beans, a poached egg.
Add a variety of vegetables to your scrambled eggs or omelette (cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, spring onion and fresh herbs)
Mash an avocado with some corn and tuna, seasoned with lemon, salt and pepper.
Make your own vegetable soup or add a variety of veggies to your regular meat and poultry soup recipe.
For an even healthier soup option boil a potato, some quinoa or bulgur wheat and place in a high-powered blender with a selection of your favourite raw vegetables and fresh herbs, season to taste and blend until smooth with some hot water to make a semi-raw vegetable soup.
Add raw salad such as rocket, watercress, spinach and tomato in your usual sandwich, or experiment by adding some roasted vegetables.
Substitute a traditional wheat flour wrap by wrapping its usual fillings in a cabbage leaf or place on a boat of cos lettuce.
If you are having a tuna and mayo bread roll or baked potato, add sweetcorn. Or choose tuna chunks with chopped peppers, olives and capers, add fresh herbs.
Make guacamole (avocado, chopped onion, diced tomatoes and lime juice) and add to a wrap with strips of cooked chicken and peppers.
Make a stir-fry with prawns or strips of lean chicken. Add aubergine, sugar snaps, red onion, yellow pepper and mushrooms, and you'll have vegetables from every colour category.
For pasta, replace traditional pasta with spiralised vegetables such as zucchini, sweet potato or butternut. Choose a tomato-based sauce with onion and garlic, rather than a cream-based sauce. Two plum tomatoes from a can count as one portion.
If you're making mashed potato, add other vegetables to the mix, such as cauliflower, carrots and swede or peas and brocolli, and you'll have veggie-boosted mash.
Throw frozen sweetcorn and peas in at the last minute when cooking rice.
Instead of deep-fried chips, bake chunky parsnip, carrot and sweet potato sticks in the oven with a little olive oil.
Add fresh berries to yoghurt.
Bake an apple in the oven, sprinkled with cinnamon and raisins.
Bake pumpkin and serve with honey
Try dried fruit such as cranberries, apricots or mango.
Whizz up a smoothie with natural yoghurt and a handful of blueberries and raspberries. Keep frozen berries handy in the freezer, as they are often cheaper than fresh.
For more savoury nibbles, crudités with hummus, a spicy tomato salsa or tzatziki.
What if I don't like fruit and vegetables?
If you don't like fruit or vegetables, these tips may help. Incorporate fruit and veg into your usual meals. Add fruit or veg to the healthy foods you do like. Add a variety of vegetables to your stew or soup, or raw grated carrots to your lunchtime bread roll. Handy tips: If the mess of peeling and eating an orange or de-seeding a pomegranate puts you off, try buying peeled and pre-cut produce or buy ready-prepared salad and fruit salads. And if you don't like peeling vegetables or waiting for them to cook, frozen vegetables are a convenient way to add vegetables to your main course.
You can have a glass of freshly squeezed fruit juice as one of your five a day, but remember to stay portion conscious.
A fruit smoothie made with yoghurt or kefir, ice and crushed fruit makes a refreshing drink, and counts towards your five-a-day. If you make your smoothie with both fruit juice and crushed fruit, it counts as two portions. A vegetable soup for lunch will mean that you eat several different vegetables without even realising it. All of these will add vitamins, minerals and fibre to your diet. Homemade blitzed soups are a great way to eat more veg, especially if you can't stand a plate of greens, or if chewing vegetables makes you feel queasy. It's also cheap and easy to make. Make a pea soup by simply heating spring onions and celery in some olive oil, adding frozen peas, and then liquidizing it with some vegetable stock. Rekindle your love
Try unusual fruit, salad and vegetables. There's such a wide choice available that there's bound to be one that you really like. If you want a change from the usual apple and pear options, try gooseberries, dragon fruit or star fruit. Keep an eye out for what's in season, and grown locally, as this is when it tends to be more affordable, and tastes better. Try uncooked vegetables
If you don't like cooked vegetables, try them raw:
Grated raw beetroot with garlic, lemon juice and olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste.
Coleslaw, made with shredded raw white cabbage and carrots, add lemon or vinegar and parsley or dill.
Waldorf salad, made with apples and walnuts.
Crudités with savoury dips.
If you don't like something, bear in mind that your tastes can change throughout your life. You may just find that by trying new fruits and vegetables regularly, you gradually increase the range of foods you eat. Small changes to what you eat can have a big impact.
Should I take a daily multivitamin?
Taking a multivitamin supplement will ensure that you're getting the right amount of needed nutrients, however it's better to get your nutrients from a well-balanced nutrient dense diet, so don't rely on taking a vitamin pill.
If you would like to learn more health promoting recipes and techniques we invite you to book a Nutrition and Health Consultation with The Health Coach academy team, attend our Healthy Cooking Classes or join our Health Coaching Program.
Results may individually vary. Information and statements made in articles of The Health Coach academy Blog are for education purposes only and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. The Health Coach academy does not provide medical advice, prescribe medication and treatment plans, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by The Health Coach academy are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. Should you have a medical condition or health concern, consult your physician.