You have to have been hiding under a rock or living on another planet not to know that healthy eating guidelines recommend you get at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every single day. But, before you start totting up the lettuce that you had in your sandwich or the side of cucumber you had as a snack, you should note what really counts as a portion.
“Most people don’t know what their 5-a-day needs to weigh,” says Fit4mum’s Melissa Lorch. “So they think they’ve reached their target when actually they’ve only eaten half of what they should have.”
Recent research by Diabetes UK backs up what Melissa is saying and claims two-thirds of UK adults eat three or fewer portions of fruit or veg a day and 75% of people have no idea what a proper portion of vegetables is.
“Each portion should weigh 80g or you should be eating 400g of fruit and veg a day,” says Melissa who says if you don’t have any scales 80g is roughly the size of your hand or clenched fist. “
This is a super simple way to ensure you’re getting enough of most produce – like broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and berries – but there are a couple of exceptions to the rule.
If you’re after just one portion of dried fruit for example you definitely don’t want to be measuring out 80g. Instead grab a 30g handful which is the equivalent to around 80g of the fresh stuff.
Pure fruit or vegetable juice can also count to your 5-a day but in the form of a 125ml glass.
Weighing out your produce is a great way to ensure you’re eating enough, but it can also help those who might be unknowingly overindulging in the good stuff.
While the guidelines say you should eat AT LEAST five each and every day this shouldn’t give you the green light to eat as much fruit and veg as you possibly can in any form.
The likes of smoothies can easily tip you over your calorie count which can cause weight gain.
“Veg and fruit eu natural are great in abundance and it’s difficult to have too much,” says Melissa “But volume of smoothies needs to be controlled or you could end up consuming an obscene amount of fruit, not to mention all the additional ingredients people often top them up with.”
In other words if your “healthy” morning smoothie contains three bananas, a punnet of blueberries and another of strawberries, plus a tub of greek yoghurt and some maple syrup you might want to rethink your breakfast.
An average woman needs to eat 2000 calories per day to maintain her weight and 1500 calories if they’re looking to lose weight.
Remember that to meet the maximum benefits of your 5-a-day you should eat a variety of different fruit and vegetables, since they all contain different nutrients, minerals and fibre.
If you’re interested in reading other nutritional articles you might like to know what celebrity trainers really eat for breakfast and cook up a storm with these delicious one-pan-dinner recipes from Rukmini Iyer