Ahhh the 2 fruit and 5 serves of vegetables a day – it causes so much discussion – “how could I possibly fit this in my day” and “why do I need so much?”
I’ve asked the same questions but the truth is – it makes a difference and as a Doctor I harp on about this every single day to my patients. Eating more fruit and vegetables helps to maintain a healthy weight and prevent obesity. It also protects against chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and can help the prevention of diabetes. When I tell a patient “look if you bump up the fruit and veggies you can lower your risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke and bowel cancer” – I anticipate excitement “oh yes, tell me how I can change my life please!!” but I am so often met with resistance “its so hard” or “I don’t have the time.”
The numbers sound big – 2 and 5 but really they are achievable I promise.
A serve of fruit is equivalent to an apple or banana or a cup of canned fruit. A serve of vegetables is equal to 1 cup of raw veggies or half a cup of cooked green veggies like spinach or broccoli. Canned and frozen fruits and veggies count (thank goodness).
So how do I do it? I whip up a soup most weeks for lunches and easy on the run dinners – canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, carrots and celery whipped together – easily my 3 serves of vegetables at lunch time. Tuna salad for lunch with 2 handfuls of baby spinach and a medium tomato and a tuna can chucked in at work – and done – another 3 serves of vegetables easily. A tub of no sugar added fruit as a snack or fruit and yogurt and I easily fit in the 2 serves of fruit.
The point I’m making is its possible – when your packing the lunch box (for you or your kids) chuck in a piece of fruit or do a massive soup batch on your free night of the week and let that fill you with you veggie intake. Don’t forget lentils and legumes are vegetables too – whip up a hommus or chuck in some beans when you next do a meat dish…
The way I do it is to plan ahead and to put all the veggie requirements into a meal and THEN think about the other stuff like the piece of baked chicken or cous cous on the side. Let the veggies be your first thought – not the steak! It’s a mind set change – but its one that we as a country have been very poor at doing!
The benefits are amazing and when you think of all the benefits I mentioned before- 2 and 5 doesn’t seem like much at all!