Did you know Aussies are just not eating enough vegetables?*. The daily recommendation is 5 serves/day. Only 8% of Australian adults eat this! ** I really need to highlight ways to eat more vegetables!
What is a serve?
This is a common question. I find a lot of people think a serve means just having a kind of vegetable. E.g. I had some peas, some corn and carrots – so that’s 3 serves. Instead, a serve is actually:
- ½ cup of cooked veg OR
- 1 cup of salad/raw veg OR
- 1 tomato OR
- ½ medium sized potato
Why are vegies so good for us?
Vegies are packed full of nutrient love. They give us beta-carotene, folate, iron, fibre, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and even some carbohydrate. Vegies also provide us with phytochemicals and anti-oxidants helping to protect our cells against ageing and cancer.
So why is it so hard to eat enough vegies?
- It could be our modern day diets are so full of other foods that fitting in vegetables is an after thought. For many of us, the portion of meat and starchy carbohydrates take precedence over vegies on our dinner plate…when it should in fact be the other way round.
- Cost can have a lot to do with it. Affordable, tasty and quality vegies can be hard to come by in some towns
- Boredom. Some of us do struggle to come up with tasty vegetable ideas. You know who you are if you think salad consists of iceberg lettuce , a bit of tomato and cucumber (there’s so much more out there!)
- Busy people buy food on the run. Often vegies don’t form a large part of these kinds of meals and snacks
What does 5 portions look like?
Check out the sample daily meal plan below to get an idea of how you can get 5 serves in….
Breakfast: 2 poached eggs and 1 slice of wholegrain toast with ¼ avocado
Morning Tea: Handful of nuts and piece of fruit
Lunch: Chicken and Salad Wrap, including at least 1 cup of salad on the wrap
+ 200g Yoghurt
Afternoon Tea: Green Smoothie made with at least 1 cup of salad greens, 1 small banana, dash of honey, chia seeds and coconut water
Dinner: Piece of Grilled Salmon with Steamed Vegetables (1 ½ cups)
Ten Ways To Get More Vegies In Your Day:
Try these tips if you know you struggle to eat enough vegetables:
- Have a cup of soup instead of a tea or coffee
- Experiment with vegetable juices and smoothies rather than fruit based ones
- Try to include vegies as a snack rather than relying on quick fix foods with sugar and fat as the main ingredient. E.g. Corn on the cobs are filling, nutritious and tasty as a snack
- Include a vegetable with your lunch – either cooked, as a salad or as vegie sticks/pieces
- When serving your evening meal, place vegies on your plate first – aim for half the plate. Then add the protein and carbs
- Experiment with salads – they don’t need to be boring. If it tastes good you will be more likely to eat it
- Eat vegies at breakfast – if you like a cooked breakfast like eggs, consider adding in spinach or tomato
- Include legumes and lentils – they are handy for throwing into a meat based dish – they make the dish go further and give you the vegie goodness
- Try Meat-Free Monday. You will soon learn to try more vegetarian meals, up your vegie intake and help the environment
- Buy your vegies in season – they will be cheaper, nutritionally superior and often better quality
*Australian Dietary Guidelines 2013 (Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council, Department of Health and Ageing)