I was nagged to eat them as a teen because they were ‘good for me’ but given how much we now know about nutrition I want to try and enlighten and inspire you to eat more of them.
How can I get you to try and eat more?
I think the best way for me to approach this issue is to try and inspire you with lots of food ideas to help you add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. However, let me be a grown up for just five minutes and fill you in on a few secrets about this food group.
I know you can’t wrap your head around this right now but believe me they are important and they actually can help with your mood, energy and all those serious disease you don’t’ want such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and being overweight. This food group are also good for glowing health skin, nails and hair while the antioxidants they contain may help to keep you looking youthful as you age.
It’s about weight and not a number
Try and think of the recommendations in terms of weight rather than servings although variety is a good thing. Five-a-day is just 400g of fruits and vegetables (you should eat more veggies than fruit). This includes all fruits (frozen, fresh, dried and canned in juice), fruit juice counts but only as one serving a day (150ml). All veggies count including fresh and frozen, but this doesn’t include potatoes. Beans (yes even baked beans), pulses and lentils also count but only as one of your daily intake.
So…Fruit and veggies are good……
Why might you be avoiding fruits and vegetables?
I think everyone loves fruit as it’s sweet which is our go-to taste when it comes to food. I get that vegetables are a little trickier, but I think the dislike is due to a few things:
- You find them boring/tasteless.
- You can’t be bothered to prepare or cook them.
- You have been nagged to eat them from an early age.
- You have never explored the many ways in which these foods can be made to taste sensational!
How can we make them more interesting?
How you choose to eat as young adults is really up to you. I’m not a fan of telling anyone what to do but I hope these few tips below might resonate with you and inspire you to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- Try adding a handful of spinach to your smoothies (you won’t taste a thing promise).
- Tenderstem broccoli and green beans stir-fried with chili, garlic and soy sauce is super tasty – add a little chicken or tofu as part of a stir-fry.
- If protein shakes are your thing and you’re looking to bulk up for the gym then try adding a little avocado, banana and unsweetened cocoa powder to up the calories and add body weight.
- Dips are delicious and when they are made with ingredients like sweet potato, avocado or soya beans they are super tasty (see recipe below). If you love hummus then make sure it makes its way to the weekly shop and team it with carrot batons to help up your veggie intake (vitamins E, C and B as well as healthy fats found in these foods help to promote healthy skin, hair and nails that I mentioned earlier).
- If you can’t be bothered with much prep then stick to cherry tomatoes, cucumber, sliced carrots and bagged salad. Find a dressing you like or just add olive oil, lemon juice and salt. This simple salad is good to keep in mind as something to accompany pizza or convenience meals.
- Try and always think about adding one healthy thing to your meal whether it’s home cooked, convenience or take-away.
- Breakfast is a great time to up the fruit and veg. Top yoghurt, porridge or breakfast cereal with chopped or dried fruit. Even when you’re blurry eyed in the morning try to think about adding one healthy thing to your breakfast.
If the whole family needs re-educating on the health benefits of eating well then why don’t you lead the way. Inspire the family with ways in which they can eat well and add more fruits and vegetables to their diet.
I totally get that fruits and vegetables may be the last thing you want to eat but even if you find a small way to include just a few extra servings day then I can assure you it will keep you fighting fit and looking great.
Rob Hobson is a registered nutritionist, a passionate cook and is co-author of The Detox Kitchen and The Art of Sleeping. He lives in London and sees private clients.
300g soya beans (edamame) frozen fine
100g (4 tbsp) low or zero fat yoghurt
1 avocado, stoned, peeled and chopped
5g chilli (optional)
Juice of 1/2 lime
Handful coriander 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- Blend until combined, it should be coarse not smooth. If it is too thick add more yoghurt
2. Serve with chopped vegetables