Most of us don’t have any trouble eating carbohydrates such as bread, cereal and pasta. In fact some of us can actually afford to eliminate some of the carbs we eat (e.g. cake, biscuits, pastries). And for most of us, getting enough protein isn’t too much trouble either.
However, when it comes to fruits and veggies, research suggests that most of us only eat half of what is recommended for good health.
The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends we eat at least two serves of fruit and five serves of veggies every day.
Fruits and veggies have a range of health benefits. The contain dietary fibre which aids digestion, keeps you regular, helps keep you full and may help protect you from a range of health problems such as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and some gastrointestinal diseases
They also contain many vitamins and nutrients that our body needs to function properly. The best strategy is to eat a wide range of differently coloured fruits and vegetables, to ensure your intake of important vitamins and minerals is sufficient.
So how can you increase your intake?
If you haven’t been eating the recommended amount, then you should probably gradually increase your intake, along with lots of water. It’s important that you drink water to help your body digest the extra fibre that you are consuming. Some tips on adding extra fruits and veggies to your daily menu include:
- Breakfast: cereal with fruit; or eggs with spinach, tomato and mushrooms
- Snack: fruit and/or vegetable smoothie; try adding cucumber or spinach to boost your veggie intake
- Lunch: grilled chicken with a large salad; or vegetable soup and a multigrain roll
- Snack: veggie sticks with hummus or cottage cheese
- Dinner: stir-fry with lots of coloured veggies and protein of your choice; finish with some yoghurt and fresh fruit.
To make it a family affair, get the kids involved by offering them a choice in which veggies they would like to eat for dinner. Why not ask them for ideas on how to prepare them. Better yet, get them to choose one fruit and one vegetable for the week, and ask them to find a recipe using the food of their choice.
If your children are a little young to be actively involved, why not make their fruits and veggies fun by using cookie cutters to cut shapes, or cut it up and serve it with yoghurt and honey.
With a little bit of creative thinking, you’ll be daily quota of fruits and five vegetables in no time.