Are We Even Getting Our 5?

Are We Even Getting Our 5?

With the latest research to come out regarding the optimal number of fruit and vegetables we should be eating, there has been a lot of conversation regarding how easy or realistic it is for people to get their ‘5’ or even ‘10’ a day. Personally, I find the topic really interesting and I could chat about my opinions on the research and the way the media has discussed it for ages. Having said that, for the purpose of this blog post, I felt it more important to look at a specific aspect of the topic and draw some attention to what is considered even 1 a day.

The research states that 80g of a single fruit or vegetable counts as a portion. With fruit, this is pretty straightforward. The average apple easily weighs more than 80g, a couple of small plums will send you well on your way and a handful of strawberries will also get you there. But, when it comes to vegetables –which should in fact make up the majority of your total consumption due to their low sugar content–how much do we have to eat to count as a portion?

Throughout the week I eat around 4-5 varieties of vegetables for lunch and 3-4 with my evening meal. I tend not think twice about whether I hit my guideline intake, because in my head, this is surely more than enough?! But reading the research got me thinking. Just because I consume roughly 8 different varieties, what does this equate to in terms of grams and therefore actual portions?

I checked back through my fitness pal, looking at exactly how many grams I had been consuming over the past months. Whilst there were loads of products logged, at only around 30-60g a portion, the quantities barely added up. My 4-5 lunch time varieties equated to around a maximum of 2 portions and my 3-4 at dinner was closer to 1.5, giving me a total of only 3.5 for the day. This was certainly a long way off my fairy tale idea that I consumed around 8 a day.  

A little shocked, I decided to weigh out 80g of a number of popular vegetables to see for myself what a proper portion looked like. It was pretty intimidating to stare at the quantities in front of me, pouring out almost a whole bag of spinach, half a bag of mange tout and over 30 green beans onto a plate. I wasn't exactly sure what to say. In fact when I showed my parents, they worked out they were probably only eating 2 portions of vegetables a day, despite imagining themselves to be eating a whole lot more. They were in fact relying on fruit to make up their way to 5 a day.  

If I’m totally honest, this provided a bit of a wake up call for me and really made me think differently about exactly how ‘healthy’ I perceive my diet to be. In order to eat sufficient quantities and get enough nutrients and vitamins, I really need to be doubling my vegetable intake each day – which is actually quite a lot more!

So how about you? How many fruit and vegetable portions are you consuming each day? Forget the whole 10 a day fiasco – it seems over the top to me, but have a look to see what number you are getting to, based on real gram measurements. I’m not trying to point any fingers and force you to eat more greens, but I do really suggest that you have a little play around with the scales and see whether that ½ plate of vegetables counts for as much as you may think…

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