Simple ways to eat more fruit and veg every day
We’ve got some practical (and fun) ways for you to sneak more fruit and vegetables into your diet.
One small thing: Why not try out a new fruit or vegetable this week – you might be pleasantly surprised with your fresh find.
Research suggests that eating enough fruit and veg is linked to a lower risk of many chronic diseases and may even help protect against certain types of cancer. But, whether it’s due to busy lifestyles or tight budgets, we’re probably not reaching this healthy quota.
The good news is that there are many creative – and affordable – ways to add more nutritious and delicious vegetables and fruit into your snacks and meals every day.
Here are five practical tips to help you get started on the road to a healthier you.
1. Keep it simple
Stock up on frozen, canned and dried produce when fresh isn't in season. Frozen veg is incredibly versatile – try adding frozen peas to rice during the last three minutes of cooking time.
Choose canned fruit packed in juice, which will have less added sugar and kilojoules than those in syrup. And opt for low-sodium canned veggies.
Fresh fruit juice also counts towards your daily intake but make sure it’s homemade or freshly squeezed. “Fruit juices made from 100% pure juice provide most of the micronutrients that are present in the original fruit, but fibre is lost, and in some instances sugar is added,” says registered dietitian Leanne Kiezer. “Many products branded as ‘fruit drinks’ contain only small quantities of the original fruit juice.” Just remember juice shouldn’t be consumed as a substitute for more than one whole fruit.
2. Try something new
When last did you try a new type of fruit or veg? Next time you’re out shopping, buy a different variety of sweet potato or tomato – you might be pleasantly surprised.
When it comes to sandwiches, texture is everything – try experimenting with veggie toppings such as cucumber, avocado slices or pickled carrots.
Add a boost of flavour to breakfast by topping oatmeal or cereal with berries or slices of banana.
Feel like something sweet after dinner? Pair fruit slices with low-fat yoghurt for an easy, delicious dessert. Other options include fresh fruit salad or baked fruit for dessert – just remember to use fruit that’s in season.
3. Creative meal combos
Creativity is the name of the game, and even though it might seem like a daunting task at first, practice (and experimentation) definitely makes perfect.
Start with simple changes. Swap out starches with a root vegetable like butternut or sweet potato and add the rest of your veggies from there. You could also try a vegetable substitute for pasta like zucchini noodles.
Another simple way to up your veg intake is to add them to stews, soups and curries. You can also use vegetables in egg dishes – onions, peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms go really well with scrambled eggs and are great as omelette fillings.
4. Snack prep is the way to go
Prepping your meals ahead of time is one of the most underrated tools to aid healthy eating – plus it can be really fun. Choose a few of your favourite snacky vegetables (cucumber, celery, cherry tomatoes or carrots) and enough containers for the next three to five days.
Then slice, dice and combine different veggies to your heart's content. Buy your favourite hummus or cottage cheese to use as a dip.
5. Pile more onto your plate
The latest dietary recommendations suggest that your plate should be full of a variety of fruit and vegetables. By getting your fill on the good stuff you won’t be as tempted by junk food.
Worried about your waistline with all this extra fruit and veg? Don’t be – the energy content of fruit and vegetables is much lower than processed foods.
Plan your day
With all that said, here’s an example of a typical day’s menu:
Breakfast: Add bananas, raisins or berries to your cereal.
Lunch: Use vegetables like cucumber, sprouts, tomato, lettuce or avocado for sandwiches.
Snacks: Raw veggie sticks made from green or red bell peppers, green beans, celery or carrots are great options, as are dried fruit, such as raisins, dates or apricots.
Dinner: Have a fruit or vegetable salad with dinner or add a side of steamed or microwaved vegetables – frozen veggies are just as nutritious!
So, there you go. Healthy eating can be achievable and is definitely worth it, give it a try and enjoy the journey to better health.