Healthy Eating – the obvious first step

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Posted by Abby

The easiest way for most people to improve their diet is to increase the amount of fruit and vegetables that they eat. Here in the UK, people are told to aim for 5 portions a day but in some countries the target is as high as 17.

Some people find this thought quite intimidating but, if you bear in mind a few tips and tricks you’ll find it easier than you thought.

There are three things to remember though:
- Potatoes don’t count
- Lentils & beans only count once, no matter how many portions you have
- Fruit juice only counts once, no matter how much you drink

1. To get off to a good start add a handful of berries or some chopped fruit to your breakfast cereal or porridge. Making your own muesli with lots of dried fruit in the mix is also a good strategy, which has the added bonus of being able to provide you with valuable essential fats, vitamins and minerals from nuts and seeds.

2. If you’re not a fan of fresh fruit, how about trying dried fruit as a snack during the day - a handful of raisins counts as one portion.

3. Hummus is a good savoury snack especially if you dip something like carrot or peppers into it rather than crisps or bread. If you make your own, adding tahini (sesame seed paste which you can easily get from a health food shop) and watching the oil content, again you increase the nutritional value.

4. If you eat sandwiches for lunch, make sure they have salad in them. Alternatively, why not have a bean salad for lunch? Or a rice salad to which you’ve added chopped vegetables?

5. Thinking about main meals, always serve some vegetables or a salad. Perhaps make chips using parsnips or sweet potatoes for a change.

6. If you’re cooking for someone who’s not keen on vegetables, things like chilli and bolognaise are good as you can add finely chopped, onions, mushrooms, courgettes etc and their individual tastes won’t stand out.

7. Obviously, eating meals where vegetables are the focus, such as salads or a vegetable stirfry will help as will fruit salad for pudding.

8. Finally, and this is what makes life easy for me, try making a smoothie. Blitz together one banana, one apple, a handful of berries and some fruit juice and you get at least 3 portions in a delicious drink. You can also freeze this mix to make fruit ice-lollies.

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This Post was written by Abby from eat the right stuff


Fabulous! Really great first post full of very useful tips.

July 12, 2007 at 4:27:00 PM GMT+2  

Great post! This is the battle I fight with the people I counsel in nutrition and you made it super clear and accessible!

Helene said...
July 12, 2007 at 6:48:00 PM GMT+2  

Hi Abby, what excellent information. I knew about the potatoes and the fruit juice but not the beans/lentils - so thank you!

Anonymous said...
July 12, 2007 at 8:33:00 PM GMT+2  

Abby a brilliant first post. My mum brought us up repeating that "5 a day" theory almost everyday. Now I am doing the same with my son. These were great tips thanks!

Meeta K. Wolff said...
July 13, 2007 at 7:47:00 AM GMT+2  

Lovely post. I tend to add a lot of vegetables to whatever I'm making. And as a habit, we take a box of assorted fruit to work everyday. In between hunger pangs are killed by fruit rather than a fried snack.

Raaga said...
July 13, 2007 at 12:44:00 PM GMT+2  

Welcome to the team!

I like your post - there are so many people picky about vegetables these days, it's so sad!

One thing I have always wondered about the "5 portions a day" rule though - how big is a portion? Is an apple enough, or half a tomato, or a leaf of sallad? How does a plate of bean stew measure up against an olive? Does hummus count as lentils and beans, and if so is a carrot dipped in hummus one or two portions?
I looked on the NHS website and they don't seem to have a strict rule about it - they say to count vegetables found in soups or stews, but I wouldn't count the shreds of dried carrot I find in my instant soup, for example.

Personally I'm not worried about my vegetable intake as I love them and eat mostly vegetarian - I should switch out my afternoon tea cookie with an apple or a banana sometimes though!


July 13, 2007 at 1:05:00 PM GMT+2  

thanks for the feedback everyone. jokergirl, as a shorthand i tend to think of 1 portion being the same size as a clenched fist so, look at what you're eating and take it from there. obviously with something like salad there's loads of space between each leaf so you'd need more, but hopefully the idea is helpful.

Anonymous said...
July 15, 2007 at 9:47:00 AM GMT+2  

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