Saturday, October 06, 2012

31 Days of Healthy Eating - Getting 9 A Day

Back before I started my healthy eating kick my regular fruit and veg intake was typically 3 or 4 a day. I kind of aimed for the UK standard recommendation of 5 a day, but mostly missed. When I saw that The Forever Young Diet recommended 9 a day, my reaction was "no chance"! I decided to aim at 7, thinking that would probably push me up to 5 or 6. After a while it got easier and I changed my target to 9. No, I don't manage it everyday - maybe 50% of the time - but I very rarely eat less than 7, which now seems effortless. This is how I do it.

Breakfast - a portion of fruit added to cereal. Sometimes a sliced banana, other days a handful of sultanas (golden raisins) or frozen berries.

Mid-morning - a banana or a fruit bar

Lunch - various options ...a sandwich with plenty of salad in it (somewhere between one and two portions) or with a handful of cherry tomatoes or a sliced red pepper on the side; a salad (3 or 4 portions); a vegetable based soup (one portion); left overs of something like vegetarian chilli made with lentils, beans, onion, chopped tomatoes and grated courgette (zucchini) (probably worth 3 portions): Innocent veg pots if I find them on special offer. Then I'll add a piece of fruit for dessert. Total fruit and veg count for lunch varies between 2 and 4.

Afternoon - an apple

Dinner - I always aim to include 2 vegetables, then more fruit either for dessert or later in the evening, making a total of 3 portions.

If I stick to this it gives a total of 8 to 10 portions a day. Not every day goes to plan. I may switch out the mid-morning fruit for a handful of nuts or a piece of cake (my office tends to run on cake!), or I may find at dinnertime that the only veggies I have to hand are frozen peas. Today was only a 7 portion day as fruit stocks had run low - sultanas with bran flakes for breakfast, fruit bar mid-morning, salad in a baguette bought from the office canteen for lunch (usually I take my own lunch but today it didn't happen), an apple on the way home from work, butternut squash wedges and sautéed leek with dinner, and a portion of grapes for dessert.

For me increasing the amount of fruit and veg has made a huge difference to the way I eat. Nine portions in a day leaves a lot less room for bad stuff - I'm simply not hungry enough to want too much of it, and eating plenty of fruit stops me craving sugary snacks. I try to go for variety in both fruit and veg.
I do probably lean a bit too heavily towards fruit, but I don't think it is a big deal.


Linds said...

I eat way more than the 5 a day - especially when I have so much from the garden at this time of year, and to be honest, I don't worry too much re meat at all. I love fish and if there is some I will choose that first. I LOVE vegetables!

Missus Wookie said...

I have a variety of dried fruits available as snacks and add extra veggies to any recipe requiring things chopped up into them (so tomato sauce will have grated/chopped finely something else in there too) figuring the extra calories are worth the extra portion.

I too fall into the 'more fruit than veggies' but think that is just for ease, most fruit doesn't need as many preparation steps as veggies.