We all know by now that we should be eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. But knowing and doing are two different things, aren’t they? Sometimes it is just not easy to get them all in there. We are constantly exposed to convenience and junk foods which tempt us and distract us away from our goals. So we have to get creative when we are trying to increase our fruit and veg intakes, and maybe hide it, or make it a little more appealing.
Government and NHS advice is to eat at least 5 pieces of fruit and vegetables a day, one of these can be fruit juice, one can be pulses, but potatoes don’t count (so you can’t fill up on chips!!) Fresh, frozen, dried or tinned, all count, so get them in where you can.
Here are a few ideas to “sneak” some extra vegetables and fruits in you and your family’s diet.
1. Start the day with a breakfast smoothie.
All you have to do is throw some fruits, low-fat yogurt and ice in a blender. You may also want to add a scoop of protein powder in there for good measure. Just blend for a few seconds and you have the perfect breakfast ready to go. To make it even more appealing for your kids, use some frozen yogurt in the smoothie. They won’t believe that you are letting them have a dessert for breakfast. We have some great breakfast smoothie recipes in the Be Strong recipe library.
2. Dried fruit makes an excellent snack any time of the day
Add some small cartons or snack packs of dried fruit mix, trail mix or yogurt coated raisins to your bag, and keep some trail mix sitting around for snacking (just make sure you count it in your calories). You can also add dried fruit to porridge, Weetabix or other cereals in the morning.
3. Add fruits and vegetables to sandwiches
You can’t beat a ‘banana butty’ (ok maybe that’s an acquired taste!), or sliced apples or strawberry slices on a peanut butter sandwich. Top a lean meat sandwich, such as turkey, ham or chicken, with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and anything else you’ve got in the salad drawer.
4. Have a salad bar at dinner
Set out a variety of chopped vegetables and leaves as well as several choices of light, low fat salad dressing and let everybody create their own perfect salad at dinner time.
5. Drink your fruits and vegetables
Keep an assortment of fruit and vegetable juices in the fridge and encourage everyone to drink them as a snack. Get creative, mix it up a bit and make a mocktail of juices. It’s important to remember that fruit juice only counts once, for your 5-a-day, because the processing of the fruit releases the sugars making them more damaging for your teeth, and fruit juices are quite high in calories, so make sure you add them to your tracker!
6. Use fruits in dessert
Put a good blob of fat free yogurt in a bowl and top it with lots of fresh or frozen fruit. Or even mix fruit in with fat free yogurt and freeze to make your own version of frozen yogurt dessert.
7. Offer fruits and vegetables as snacks
You can cut apples into slices and top them with peanut butter or light spreadable cheese. Cut up some fresh veggies and serve them with low fat dips or hummus.
8. Try something new
Pick something exotic to ignite yours curiosity. Visit Asian and Chinese supermarkets and try something you don’t recognise. Try some thing that you have never tried before artichokes, fennel, plantains, papaya, mango, star fruit, or anything else you can find in the fruit and veg aisles!
9. Make a pot of vegetable soup or a stew
Soup or stew that’s heavy on veggies and easy on the meat is really easy. Just chop up whatever you can get your hands on and boil it all up together with some stock. Add your favourite herbs and spices, eh voila!! Soups and stews make great comfort food when the weather gets cold.
10. Have a ‘Vegetarian Day’ each week
Not only will it help your fruit and veg intake, but it will likely be a lower calorie day, whilst also doing your bit for the planet, by reducing your meat intake by just one day a week!
Why should we?
Fruit and veg (particularly veg) is usually a little lighter in calories, and due to the high fibre levels it makes us feel fuller sooner. So increasing your fruit and veg intake is great for those who are trying to reduce their calorie intake where they can. The fibre also aids our digestive process, helping us to go the loo easier, and reducing bloating. Fibre is also thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers. On top of all that, fruit and vegetables are bursting with vitamins and minerals, the tiny little micro-nutrients that keep our bodies in tip top condition, fighting fit and ready to take on the world!
We would love you to share your top tips for increasing your veg intake in the comments below, so that the rest of the Be Strong community can benefit from your ideas.
Try and get your 5,6 or maybe even 7 a day every day this week, to reduce your calorie intake, improve your digestion and soak up all those health and immune boosting nutrients!