Everyone knows that vegetables are good for them – but it’s surprising how many people think they’re doing OK – until they start to count! Food intake is one of those areas where what we think we’re doing and what we’re actually doing are two different things.
Check your real intake
So keep a food diary for 1 week and check what you’re really eating. Your target is:
5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit every day
Remember – a serve of vegetables is 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw – so a couple of lettuce leaves and a slice of tomato on even the healthiest burger doesn’t cut it.
If you pass with flying colours, that’s wonderful. If you don’t, then it’s time to get sneaky and playful – make the goal of eating healthier fun and interesting.
Playing the veggie challenge
Most people find fruit relatively easy to add to their diet, but vegetables can stretch your normal eating patterns. Here are a few thoughts to help you along the way:
- Have a fast quantity measure for serving up meals – 3/4 of your plate should be covered by vegetables – only 1/4 should be protein.
- Move up from “meat & 3 veg” to “meat & 4 veg“.
- Replace grain products with vegetable alternatives – use cauliflower “rice” or zuccini “spaghetti” to sneak in an extra serve.
- Plan small steps, not a total dietary revolution – it’s more sustainable. Up your veggie quantity per day by 1 veggie for the next month, then add just 1 more veggie per day for the following month.
- Use smoothies to hide green veggies like spinach and lettuce. A handful of berries and a teaspoon of cacao or cocoa can camouflage both tastes and colours that you’re not used to. Half a frozen banana does wonders too if you can manage the extra carbs. Soda water can make the texture more palatable, too. Beetroot powder is another good colour lifter. A teaspoon of barley grass or spirulina adds great nutritional value. A dessertspoon of yoghurt, some water or your favourite milk will blend all well.
- Get inspiration online. There are lots of healthy eating blogs that will cheerfully email you regular new recipe ideas without you having to make time to get out cookbooks or do lots of research.
What are your favourite strategies to up your vegetable intake?
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