Most of us know we should be eating five or more servings of fruit and veges in our daily diet for optimum nutrition, but it’s often one of the key areas of nutrition that we struggle with in modern life (especially getting enough veges!).
If you typically have breakfast, lunch and dinner with morning and afternoon snacks, this means you should be eating around one serving of produce at each meal. Fruit and vegetables provide us with essential vitamins and minerals that help our body to function at its best. Everything from gut health to immunity, skin appearance to hair health is affected by our intake of nutrients.
Bonus points if it’s fresh and organic, but tinned and frozen can be just as great as they are typically packaged when they are at their freshest meaning the vitamins and nutrients are sealed in. Sometimes produce that has been sitting on supermarket shelves has already nutritionally deteriorated especially if it has taken a while to get there from being harvested, then it’s stored in your fridge or fruit bowl for a while before making it to your plate.
At any rate, any fruit and veg is better than none! So here are some ideas to help you get more fruit and veges into your diet:
- Chop vegetables up into small pieces and hide them in saucy meals (spaghetti bolognese, soups, stews, curries)
- Add chunks of fruit – apples, mandarin wedges, mango, pineapple – into your salad
- Drink smoothies or juices that contain plenty of fruit and veges
- Always have your fruit bowl filled with in season fruit – they will taste better and be more appealing
- Don’t hide it – always have fruit and veges out on display to remind you about eating them
- Always have frozen and tinned fruit and veges available in case you have no fresh produce (or it’s all gone off – we’ve all been there!)
- Plan your meals around the vegetables, rather than the protein
- Make fruit or vegetable muffins, omelettes or scones to use up any leftover produce before it goes off
- Chop up a variety of fresh fruit and create a fruit salad to eat with your muesli or porridge
- Plan it out; in the evening, plan your fruit and vege servings for your next day ahead
- Several times a week, chop up some carrot sticks, celery sticks and capsicum wedges and place them in a container in the fridge. They will be on hand to have as snacks during the week or can be easily grabbed and placed into small storage containers to take on the go with you
- When eating out, always order a side salad
- Substitute something out of your normal meal. Courgettes can be turned into noodles (zucchini noodles = zoodles!), chopped up veges can be substituted for meat in a bolognese sauce, roast veges can be substituted for meat in lasagne.
Get creative with your thinking and come up with new ways to incorporate fruit and veges into your diet. Your body will thank you for it!
Image / NZ Real Health