Is It Really Possible To Eat 10 Portions of Fruit and Veg In A Day?
Here’s what happened when we took on the Nutri Advanced 10-A-Day challenge…
Fruits and vegetables have been hitting the headlines recently, following news that everyone should be aiming for at least 10 portions daily. And there’s been lots of juicy chatter around the subject with questions like what constitutes a portion and whether it’s really possible to eat this much?
It’s great to hear people talking more about fruit and veg! Anything that opens up a conversation and gets people talking (and thinking) about their diet can only be a good thing.
We had a bit of fun in the office with these new recommendations and set ourselves a ‘Nutri Advanced 10-a-day challenge’!
The brief was simple. Without doing anything drastic to your diet can you make a few simple tweaks to reach the 10-a-day mark? We really wanted to test just how possible this is in the real world, hence why the brief was quite strict on not deviating too much from your normal routine.
As well as eating lots of fruit and veg, we learned plenty in the process. Here's how we got on:
The mission - The Nutri Advanced 10-A-Day Challenge
The brief - Without doing anything drastic to your diet can you make a few simple tweaks to reach the 10-a-day mark?
The challenge participants – Jenny Patman (E-commerce Manager), Rob Sackett (Marketing Coordinator), Rebecca Hodgson (Digital Marketing Executive) & Rachel Bartholomew (Nutritionist & Health Writer)
“As an inherently lazy person, my concern about taking the 10-a-day challenge was just how much extra work it would involve. However I found that by adding more green veg to existing meals and snacking on fruit, it really wasn’t too hard to reach the total with minimal extra effort.
Breakfast used to be ‘low fat’ cereal but after our nutrition team convinced me that even the healthy cereals had high sugar content, I switched to overnight oats. I use rolled oats, yoghurt, frozen berries and honey. These work for me as I can make them the night before (mornings are always a rush), they are sweet enough and using frozen fruit saves money.
Lunchtime is normally soup and pitta. I tend to make a batch on Sunday and use up any veg I have left over. This one has carrots, parsnips, red onion and butternut squash. I buy the butternut squash pre-prepared to save time.
For my evening meal I adapted a Joe Wicks 15 minute ‘Spanish Eggs’ recipe, which I cook quite regularly. It’s very quick and normally consists of chorizo, spring onions, tinned tomatoes and eggs. To up the veg count I added spinach, cherry tomatoes and broccoli, which worked really well. I find adding spinach to anything tomato based works quite well.
I normally take a banana and orange into work to snack on. I think it helps that the people in my office also snack mainly on fruit and reserve chocolate and crisps for ‘treat days’. I added an apple in for the way home to try and reach the 10 target.
Looking at my food for the day I can see that I probably should try and decrease the amount of fruit and increase the amount of vegetables (I’ve got a sweet tooth!). I don’t think realistically I’d eat 10-a-day going forward but I think 6 or 7 portions is pretty easy to achieve without any extra work or much effort.”
“I am already a big fan of trying to ram as much fruit and veg into meals as possible. However having 10 fruit and veg a day did seem like a challenge.
One of the surprises was the number of pieces of fruit/veg, which made up a portion.
One portion is roughly made up of 80g of fruit or veg. This is easy to achieve with an apple or an orange but becomes slightly more tricky, with lighter items like cherry tomatoes and raspberries.
It is suggested you need to eat 7 cherry tomatoes to make up a portion and 2 handfuls of raspberries, which can get a bit samey.
I found the best way was to combine a variety of fruit or veg into a portion for example by buying mixed bags of frozen fruit (blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries) or a mixed bag of veg (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and peas) and adding them to meals.”
“The 10 a day challenge was actually much more successful than I thought it would be! I always thought that I barely ate fruit and veg but when it came down to analysing my current diet I was already eating 5 portions (albeit made up of ½ a portion of one food and another ½ made up of other food).
Change began first thing with an omelette instead of boiled eggs - the spinach and mushroom portions look huge but cook down to very little in the omelette. I thought that it was going to take ages in a morning to make the omelette but it’s actually really quick - you’re watching it cook as you pack the ingredients away.
Soups are great for an office lunch, 3 mins in a microwave and so many veggies hidden inside. This was my usual soup and only had carrot inside, but another full portion of veg checked off.
Not pictured here is a bread roll, those who can eat soup without bread are clearly some type of superior being!
To get another couple of portions in after work I swapped rice for broccoli & cauliflower with my evening chilli. They were a surprisingly good – and filling – replacement, but I was shocked at the difference between a portion of cauliflower and a portion of broccoli!
Ending the day with fruit, yoghurt and a drizzle of maple syrup felt like a luxury not a bore although a portion is quite a lot at 7 strawberries I swapped a couple out for more raspberries.
Going forwards I’ll definitely be keeping most of the frequency of the fruit and veg throughout my day, but I might not be eating entire portions for items like cauliflower/strawberries) The omelette might have to go if I’m really in a rush, omelette can’t be eaten in the car quite as well as a boiled egg…
I thought that I only managed 8 portions of fruit and veg, but we had neglected to count the peas and kidney beans within the chilli!”
“Being a nutritionist probably gave me an unfair advantage in this challenge! 10-a-day sounds like a lot but there’s some easy ways to stack up a number of portions in a single meal or snack so I made sure I included these ‘quick-wins’ in my day.
It always amazes me how much veg goes into making a single glass of fresh juice. There were 5 whole portions of veg in this one! There’s endless debate about what that counts for however, since the fibre is removed along with the pulp - whatever your thoughts on that though, it’s still a great start.
Salads and soups are easy wins too – a portion of carrots and a portion of lentils in the soup, and 4 portions of veg in the salad, and that brings the total to well over 8 before you start to count the snacks.
The key to success with this, as with any healthy dietary changes, is planning and preparation. Doing the challenge has really sharpened my focus on the fact that it’s easy to eat plenty of fruit and veg when you really think about it and plan ahead but that it doesn’t just happen by chance, and when life is busy you can quickly start to fall short. It’s made me realise that I need to up my game when it comes to putting a bit more time aside for planning my own and my family’s weekly meals and snacks.”
Will you take the Nutri Advanced 10-a-day challenge?
The Nutri Advanced 10-a-day challenge has been a huge success in our office and we’ve all found it hugely motivating for getting more fruit and vegetables into our diets. You might want to follow these 5 top tips if you’re thinking of giving it a go. We’d love to hear how you get on - good luck!
The Nutri 10-a-day challenge – 5 top tips for success!
1) Plan ahead – This is absolutely crucial to success.
2) More veg less fruit - If you’re going for 10 – aim for 7 veg and 3 fruit.
3) Combine fruit & veg with protein and fat - Always combine fruit and veg with some form of protein and ideally some beneficial fats – that goes for snacks as well as meals. It’s much easier to do this in the context of a meal (i.e. salmon & salad) but takes a bit more thought with snacks. So instead of just picking up a piece of fruit, combine with a dollop of yoghurt and a sprinkle of seeds or a handful of nuts for more sustained energy. And a handful of chopped vegetable crudités works well with a protein-rich dip such as hummus made with tahini (sesame seed paste).
4) Quick-wins - Include ‘quick-wins’ such as freshly made veg juice, soup, salads and stir-fries.
5) Adapt what you’re already doing - Don’t deviate too much from your normal diet, rather think of ways to adapt what you’re already doing. You’ll get much more out of the challenge that way and be more likely to stick to the changes.
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