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Breakfast with fruit
Get More Fruit and Veg

Top Tips from Lyndel Costain and Nigel Denby, plus some fresh ideas from WLR members.

How to Get More Fruit and Veg

by WLR Staff, Pat Wilson

What is it with eating fruit and vegetables? Why don’t we eat more? We seem to manage 3 portions on a good day.

The ‘5 a day’ quota in the UK is recommended as it is deemed to be relatively easy to achieve. The British Dietetics Association, in 1989, launched ‘5 a day’ because it was believed to be attainable. Realistically,  seven portions a day is more likely to be ideal.

In the US the recommendation is 9 a day whilst in France and Canada it is 10. We in the UK are aiming for a less than ideal target and we can't even manage that!

Here's how to get more:

Lyndel Costain's Tips
  • Slice fruit or sprinkle a tablespoon of dried fruit on to breakfast cereal or have a glass of pure juice with breakfast.
  • Go continental and start your main meals with a salad.  
  • Everytime you have a meal make sure some fruit and/or veg is part of it (aim to make them part of snacks too).  
  • Add extra vegetables to casseroles, soups, curries and pasta sauces.  
  • Keep some fruit in the car, in your bag or the desk at work, ready for a convenient, naturally packaged snack.  
  • Top frozen or chilled pizza with extra sliced vegetables before cooking and serve with a green salad.  
  • Fill around half your plate with salad or vegetables – enjoy different tastes, colours and textures.  
  • Don’t forget canned vegetables and fruit in juice count towards the 5 a day.  
  • Indulge in an exotic tropical fresh fruit salad – you won’t need any cream.  
  • Serve vegetable sticks with dips, in packed lunches and as anytime snacks.
Nigel Denby's Advice

'Eating more fruit and veg doesn’t have to mean piles of steaming cabbage or stewed rhubarb. A small glass of fruit juice with breakfast, an apple mid morning and a handful of cherry tomatoes with your lunch time sandwich and you’re well on the way to getting your 5 a day. Add a couple of portions of fresh or frozen veg or a large salad to dinner and you’ve done it! Simple, delicious and healthy.’

WLR Members Ideas

You can get used to almost anything if you keep trying a little at a time. Antan

You will find the more you eat the more you will like it. We always bulk out meals with veg, like having carrots and broccoli in a tomato based sauce with pasta, it’s lovely! Honest! Beckasimmons

If you have a George Foreman Grill this is maybe another good way to get used to veg. Try cutting up peppers, red onion, courgette and leaving them on the grill for 5-7 mins they become much sweeter and are perhaps easier to eat along side your meal. Kelly

If you fancy something fruity that takes ages to eat, try a pomelo. Approx 120kcals for the whole fruit – altogether more for your cals than a mini chocolate bar! Angel

A Grape Idea Get a bunch of sweet grapes, pick them off the stalks, wash and dry them and put them into a freezer bag and freeze! They are a lovely treat with an unusual texture ..you can pop a few if you get a craving for something sweet without feeling guilty. Snoozypaws3000

I was walking around in London and there were so many lovely tempting goodies! But instead one of the stalls had a freezer with loads of different kinds of frozen fruit so I bought a bag to suck/nibble – it was lovely. Also you have to eat slowly which made me feel really full. Pinknicky

I discovered if you add raw mushrooms to a tomato and cucumber salad it makes it so much more filling and they contain hardly any calories. Odeayau

Beetroot and Celery soup

Well I am just tucking into the most strangest concoction yet that I have come up with. It started out as celery soup that was lacking with something, remembered I had a pack of fresh beetroot in the fridge and hey presto. It’s actually quite delicious, tasty and filling. Bluebellcrafts

The tip is to find veg that you actually like or at least stuff you dislike less, there has to be something. FruityLoops

I think the trick to do is disguise veg – whizz up carrots in the blender and add them to bolognese and chilli. Homemade soup is a great way to eat veg too. Flicky

How about hiding chunks of courgette and aubergine in tomato sauces for pasta or curry? Frozen peas are probably quite an easy start, maybe mixed with frozen sweetcorn. Cherry tomatoes are great for snacking on. Rachael Reynolds

Rhubarb

Stew some rhubarb with a couple of tsps of Splenda or similar sweetener. Yummy for breakfast with a pot of yoghurt and very low calorie and high fibre! Cebee

Steamed Onions

Try slicing up some raw onions and steaming them. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, they’re YUMMY and about 20calories per 100g. Just had some with dinner, highly recommended, I shall eat them regularly and they don’t make you stink having been steamed. Porkyboy

Beautiful salad – Plum tomatoes halved, coat over dish with oil, add tomatoes, whole garlic and fresh thyme, drizzle oil on top. Pinch sugar, salt & pepper. Put in oven @220 for 35-45 minutes. Allow to cool. Rocket and simple dressing. It is so yummy and not too many cals. Totally yummy. MMMmmm Melodybelle

Cauliflower power!

Boil a pan of cauliflower florets for 5 mins. Throw in a good handful of baby leaf spinach – simmer for another 2 mins then drain and put into a casserole dish. Mix a tsp of cornflour with a drop of milk and add to 1/3 pint of semi-skimmed milk. Heat but don’t boil. Add 50g of graded cheddar cheese and keep stirring until melted. Pour over the cauliflower and spinach – sprinkle liberally with paprika and crushed black pepper and place in a hot oven. Yummy. Bluebellcrafts

Thanks to members for their helpful and inspiring tips posted on Food Ideas Board, Members Forum.

So what is the problem with fruit and vegetables? They are low in calories, have varied and important health benefits, can be low in cost and there are hundreds of different types and varieties to choose from.

Do you see fruit & vegetables as a 'diet' food and not a treat?

I was talking to a journalist recently about how members cope with the endless stream of office birthdays and celebrations which inevitably involves lots of cakes, chocolates and ‘naughty’ treats laden with calories and not planned for in the daily eating plan. Made me think. I wonder how people would react if on a birthday a big basket of fruits was brought in as a treat for everyone to help themselves to? Let me know people’s reactions if you try this?…

I think we need to change our attitude to fruit and vegetables. The variety available and the different recipes and things you can do with them means these are versatile, tasty foods to have in your diet. Don’t think of eating fruit and vegetables as ‘deprivation.’ Think of it as foods to fill you up (and they do) for minimal calories and foods which provide important micronutrients. Remember a healthy you is a more energised you who can do anything.

A Valid Option?

1 Mars Bar/62.5g Standard Bar = 282.9kcals with 11g of Fat, of which 6.2g is saturated. The Mars Bar cost 40p.

Or you could eat:-

1 Banana/118g Medium sized = 115.6kcals
1 Satsuma/50g Average = 18kcals
1 Portion Strawberries/100g = 27.6kcals
1 Melon/240g = 60kcals
1 Orange/160g Medium = 59.2kcals
  = 280.4kcals with negligible fat.
An average banana costs 20p.

Much more filling, packed with healthy nutrients, vitamins and minerals and you will glow with a positive feeling from eating them. Your skin and hair will shine with the healthy nutrients. And the more healthy habits you can adopt the more motivated you will feel to achieve your goals.

I love my meat but hate all fruit and vegetables…

Always amazes me to hear this but it is said and some people do stand by it. However…

There are bananas, pears, oranges, apples, peaches, pineapples, grapefruit, melon, strawberries, cherries, blueberries, satsumas, celery, mandarins, kiwi, cabbage, lettuce, cucumber, onions, carrots, cauliflower, leeks, sprouts, tomatoes, green beans, peppers… big ones, small ones, round ones, long ones, red, green and yellow ones. You get the gist.

Most are available throughout the year and with all the different textures and flavours it is hard to believe there is nothing here that you could like if you tried. Take on a mission to try to experiment with different items you haven’t tried. Look at all the ideas and tips mentioned here ..there must be something.

(Don’t go mad and rush out and buy loads and loads…they will rot in the fruit bowl and vegetables tray leaving you thinking ‘That was a waste of money.’ Buy a few or one or two items to try each day/week).

Keep It Simple

You don’t suddenly have to become a top chef or know your artichokes from your ugli fruit (many of you will know I am not a cook!). Use everyday fruits and veggies in different meals. As you try new things you can become more adventurous. The 5 a day message does not want to become a chore or you will not stick to this worthwhile habit.

According to the supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, cucumber sales in the past year have increased by 20% and cucumber is now as popular in the winter as it is in the summer. The company’s cucumber buyer said a new generation had discovered the fresh flavour of a cucumber sandwich.

Couldn’t be easier to make a cucumber sandwich – and at 137.6kcals (using 2 slices of wholemeal bread and a reduced fat spread) got to be worth a try!

Are you convinced yet??

I know you are getting used to me on a soap box and I don’t want to preach. I have to make a conscious effort to meet at least 5 a day – I have a banana and glass of juice with breakfast, I munch on grapes whilst I am working at the computer, I make sure I add as much salad as possible to sandwiches and always add loads of veg to an evening meal. I enjoy crunching on carrots as well!!! I also have my 12 yr old daughter, in whom I am determined to encourage a love of fruit and veg, so we try new things and experiment; always a good motivation to include fruit and veg in the household meals– the health of your family!

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Further Information

Lyndel Costain

Lyndel Costain, Taken from her book ‘Diet Trials: how to succeed at dieting’. BBC, £6.99. Other books by Lyndel include The Body Clock Diet (Hamlyn £9.99), Super Nutrients (DK, £6.99) and Easy Gluten-free Cooking’ (Hamlyn £5.99).

Lyndel is a state-registered dietitian, nutrition consultant, health writer and broadcaster on television and radio. Lyndel is an active member of the BDA, Dietitians in Obesity Management UK, the Nutrition Society, Association for the Study of Obesity, Guild of Health Writers and the Eating Disorders Association.

Nigel Denby

Nigel is a Registered Dietitian and author of ‘the GL diet.’ (£7.99 Blake Publishing) – ‘This is the next step on from the GI Diet. It’s simpler and it really works. Love your food and lose weight.’

Diet Q & A

Healthy Eating: 5 a day fruit & vegetables

Lyndel Costain's Body Clock Diet book

World Cancer Research Fund – www.wcrf.org and join in with Fruity Friday on the 13th May

National Vegetarian Week 2005 – www.vegsoc.org

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Using the tools in WLR will help you learn how to eat healthily and balance calories for weight loss or weight maintenance. You can keep an online food diary and access WLR's calorie and nutrition databases. Try it free for 24 hours.

Take our FREE trial »

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