Dietary guidelines world-wide recommend that we should include at least 5 servings of vegetables and 2 of fruit in our daily diets. As a nutritionist, even I find this difficult sometimes. A serving is generally regarded as:
- 1 serving of vegetables is 1 cup of loose leaf uncooked or 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables. Include different types of coloured vegetables to cover the colour spectrum and ensure that we get lots of different vitamins, minerals and phytochemical.
- 1 serving of fruit is 1 piece of fruit, small fruit like apricots count for 1/2 serving. 1/2 cup of cooked fruit is 1 serving.
There are many organisations world-wide that provide fact sheets that aim to help us eat well and stay healthy. I’ve included two links from Nutrition Australia website. This website has some really helpful resources and I have included two links to their facts sheets you may find useful:
A link to fact sheets for fruit and vegetables suggestions: http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/vic/resource/vhee-fruit-veg-resource-hub
Another link to their general fact sheets, some really great healthy eating tips: http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/resources
I have included some tips that make it a little easier to cover the intake of vitamins and minerals and help you achieve the daily vegetable/fruit targets:
- spread your intake throughout the day, try to include vegetables at every meal e.g. Breakfast 1/2 avocado on toast with a handful of spinach leaves on top and 1/2 cup of chopped strawberries with some yoghurt. Lunch 1 1/2 cups of salad vegetables with a protein (e.g. fish, chicken, beans, pulses) topped with some seeds. Dinner steamed broccoli 1/2 cup, sweet potato 1/2 cup and sugar snap peas 1/2 cup and protein of choice. Afternoon snack can be some carrot and celery sticks with hummus or dip of choice.
- Legumes and beans count within your vegetable intake – try to include 1/2 cup of these(1 serving) 2-3 times per week, this will add to your fibre intake and provide a good protein source.
- It’s ok to buy packaged salads from supermarkets, I do. I’m addicted to packaged kale slaw at the moment. Its a very convenient way to get a variety of vegetables already prepared to eat. 1 1/2 cups of chopped salad (like kale slaw) with dressing (I don’t use the dressings they provide in the pack and instead use lime juice and a splash of olive oil). Top with a sprinkle of nuts and seeds and a protein source, I use a small can of tuna but you can use corn, pulses (lentils or beans) and canned is ok too.
- Use lots of different types of herbs in your cooking – they are great in salads e.g. mint, basil, tarragon, dill. Herbs are really good for you and will make your salad taste like a professional one from a restaurant.
- Don’t feel too guilty if you don’t reach your daily targets for fruit and vegetables remember our nutritional intake isn’t just what we eat on a day, its how we eat over a period of days and we can balance out our vitamins and minerals over time. This doesn’t mean that you can eat NO vegetables or fruit for 2 days then try and catch up on the 3rd – your tummy won’t like this and I for one, couldn’t eat this much food.