It’s gotten to that point now. I’ve graduated from University; I’ve got a good job, my own place, hobbies and I’ve settled into my routine. Now I’m turning my mind to my health.
Do I exercise enough – Probably not. Do I eat too many sweets – Chocolate mousse is a major weakness of mine. Do I eat enough fruit and vegetables – Yes. I think so. I like fruit and vegetables so I must be getting near enough my five a day.
The challenge is I live with a vegetable-hater, which makes sneaking vegetables into meals a mission impossible-style activity. I have perfected micro-chopping mushrooms to hide them in bolognese and slathering stir fry veg in tasty sauce so that they can pass unnoticed, but is it enough? I didn’t think so, so I’ve also started doing one vegetarian meal a week (very unpopular), but I do feel terribly smug having not had any meat all day.
The NHS recommends that we eat five fruit and vegetables a day, but that is the lower end of the recommended fruit and veg intake scale. Other countries like Canada and Japan say you should eat seven or more vegetables a day. In Australia it's five portions of veg and two portions of fruit whereas France thinks you should have ten portions of fruit and veg a day!
So what counts towards your daily goal? One adult portion of fruit or vegetables is 80g.
|Fruit or vegetable||Maximum portion count||Reason|
|A glass of unsweetened 100% fruit or vegetable juice||1||Fruit juice only counts as a maximum of one portion a day, even if you have more than one glass. This is mainly because juice contains less fibre than whole fruits and vegetables|
|A smoothie||1+||A smoothie containing all of the edible pulped fruit and/or vegetable may count as more than one portion, but how many depends on how it’s made|
|Potatoes||0||Although potatoes are a great source of fibre they mainly contribute to starch in a healthy diet and therefore do not count|
|Sweet potatoes, parsnips, swedes and turnips||1+||Sweet potatoes, parsnips, swedes and turnips do count towards your 5-a-day, because they are usually eaten in addition to the starchy food part of the meal|
|Beans and pulses||1||Beans and pulses only count as one portion a day, no matter how many you eat because although they are a good source of fibre, they contain fewer nutrients than other fruits and vegetables|
You might think ‘what are the benefits of taking supplements if I can get all my required nutrients from food?’ Although the majority of nutrients have a natural source, getting the right amounts on a daily basis might not be that simple. Take vitamin D as an example, your recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamin D is 600 IU (15 mcg) so to get that you would need to eat approximately 15 large eggs, or 90g of swordfish if you have it handy, every day. That might be sustainable for a couple of days, but making sure you have 100% of your RDA for all the essential vitamin and nutrients can get tricky, especially if you fancy something not vitamin-rich for dinner one day as a treat, hello Pizza Fridays. Alternatively, you could take a supplement like Cod Liver Oil from FutureYou, which contains 100% of your RDA for vitamin D and 114% of your RDA for Vitamin A.
The stark reality is that around 64% of us are not getting our 5-a-day. So, as an eye-opening exercise, I am going to keep a food diary this week to see if I am getting my 5-a-day and for the next blog I will share how many times I hit my 5-a-day target. Feel free to join in with me if you’d like by keeping a record of the fruit and veg you eat (that count!) and see if you are getting anywhere near your 5-a-day. If you know any clever ways to sneak in extra fruit and vegetables to meet your 5-a-day please share them by commenting on this blog!