We’re taught from a young age that we have to eat our greens, no matter how strange or uninviting they seemed. Unfortunately, this aversion to veggies can often carry on into adulthood with statistics showing that around only 10% of Americans are eating enough fruit and vegetables. So how much is enough? Well the jury is out on that one. Guidelines suggest anywhere from 5-13 portions of fruit or vegetables should be consumed daily, with this amount obviously being affected by your own statistics such as age, weight and lifestyle.
This can seem like a lot of produce to be stocked up on if you want to eat a variety of veg every day but a portion of fruit of vegetables can come in a variety of ways, and I’m not just talking about the foods themselves. Fresh produce is usually what springs to people’s minds when considering how to get more fruit and veg in their diet but canned, dried and frozen all count towards your daily total.
Though 13 portions a day may seem intimidating to some people, 5 portions a day really is achievable for anyone. If you’re still stumped on how to pack these super foods into your daily routine, have a look at our 10 ways to get more fruit and veggies in your diet.
10 Ways to Get More Fruit and Veggies in Your Diet
- 50/50 rule
The best place to start when trying to add more fruit and veggies to your diet is what goes on your plate three times a day. The 50/50 rule is an easy guideline for you to stick to that will encourage you to up your intake with every meal. Just make sure that for every meal you prepare and plate up, half of it consists of either fruit or vegetables. Simple!
- Just Deserts
If you’ve just finished a meal that contained 50% vegetables, the chances are that you’re feeling pretty happy with yourself. But why stop there? Desert is a great way to have something sweet that’s also nutritionally sound. Fruit based deserts are easy to prepare and less guilt inducing than your favourite slice of cake, just make sure you don’t go overboard as they can still contain large amounts of sugar. Canned fruits make preparing deserts easy, to avoid the sugar overload just choose fruit canned in water not syrup.
If the idea of adding 50% to your meal in vegetables and then adding fruit for desert sounds a little intimidating, perhaps think about swapping out something you were going to eat anyway for a vegetable based substitution. For instance, if you were thinking of fries tonight, why not sub them for crunch and satisfying carrots? What about courgetti instead of spaghetti? Once your confidence builds you can even substitute cauliflower for a pizza base, sweet potato for mac ‘n’ cheese or even brownies (don’t kick it ‘til you’ve tried it!) With a little creativity the possibilities really are endless and you can achieve your favourite comfort food whilst loading up on health enhancing veggies.
If full blown substitutions still bring you out in cold sweats, what about sneaking in a little bit of veg into everyday dishes you love? It won’t be such a shock to the system, in fact, you probably won’t even notice they’re there. Adding some carrots, swede or sweet potato to your regular potato mash adds sweet, sweet flavour whilst also adding vital vitamins. Other popular veggies that are easy to sneak into any dish, especially with kids, include garden peas and sweetcorn. Also quite sweet and subtle in flavour, they’re small and inconspicuous and make great additions to dishes like mac ‘n’ cheese. If they are noticed, they’re small colourful shapes are likely to make the food look just that little bit more interesting.
- Flavour Flav’
If you really are one of those people that just doesn’t appreciate the taste of fruit or vegetables, there’s no need to suffer. You can still eat your greens without screwing up your face and forcing them down. All you need is a little added flavour! We often forget that vegetables, though they are flavoursome in their own unique ways, can be seasoned just like anything else we cook. Grab your favourite seasoning for your usual meals and add them to some veggies to make them more appealing.
By now adding vegetables to your meals should seem fairly achievable, but adding fruits to a meal can often be challenging. A great way to add a bit of fruitiness to a regular meal is to get saucy. Wizz up some applesauce and add it to your pork chop, berries for your poultry or some peaches for your morning yoghurt. Constantly changing texture and presentation will stave off boredom when it comes to fruits and veggies!
One of the easiest ways to both prepare and eat a ton of veggies at once is to make a soup. You basically chop, chuck and chug. Ok maybe not chug but you get my point. Throw whatever vegetables you have left hiding in the fridge, slice them up and throw them in, you just need to add stock and your favourite seasoning. Due to the high water content, soups are also a great way to hydrate. Have a cup of soup with your lunchtime sandwich and you’re winning.
- Hiding in Plain Sight
Often the problem isn’t that we don’t want to eat fruit or veg, it’s just that with all the other things we have going on, we often tend to go for whatever is readily available to us. One quick and easy way to get yourself to grab that extra piece of fruit is to place them in plain sight, somewhere that you often pass on your way in or out. An inviting fruit bowl placed on your way out of the kitchen will do the trick.
- Our favourite ‘S’ word – Snack
When we’re watching our diet or trying to improve our general health, snacks can often be demonised unnecessarily. If you approach snacking the same way you approach your meals where fruits and veggies are concerned, you should have no problems. Swap out your favourite stress-relieving crunchy snack with some carrots and hummus, your crackers and peanut butter with celery, your sweets with frozen berries. You’ll get the same gratification, whether that’s a satisfying crunch or satiating your sweet tooth without the guilt.
- Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail
The key to achieving anything is preparation and getting more fruits and veggies in your diet is no exception. With a little time spent preparing your produce at the beginning of the week, you’ll have a much higher chance of having succeeded come Sunday. Chop, freeze, smoothie and portion your fruits and vegetables in advance and it will be a no-brainer come Monday morning when you’re looking for the easiest food option available.
Achieving your health goals is not impossible. Along with almost everything else, making small changes to your diet when it comes to incorporating more fruit and vegetables will add up to a big change in your overall state of health.