Update: After two weeks, I’ve given up on trying to get my 5 a day. It was simply too much effort planning my meals, thinking about what to bring into work with me, and planning my weekly shopping. it wasn’t entirely a waste, however – instead of trying to hit 5 a day, I’m now more conscious of trying to get as much fruit and vegetables into my diet without a fixed benchmark. Five days in and I’m consuming more fibre than before I started this project, I’m satisfied with my meals (dissatisfaction leads to bad snacking – think chips, crisps and chocolate) and my toilet visits are back to normal – all is going well! 🙂
Growing up, I never had a clear concept of how much fruit and vegetables one should eat. Sure, everyone knows that they should eat more fruit and vegetables, and I’m sure that Singapore’s Health Promotion Board has a guideline somewhere on how much we should be getting – but I only really started hearing about getting your “5 a day” when I moved to the UK.
I recently saw a link someone posted on Facebook, which gave pictorial suggestions of what “5 a day” looks like. It was only then that I realised just how little of the recommended intake I’m actually getting. Going by these pictures, I usually get close to 2 servings, and rarely would I hit 3 – and already I consider myself to eat more fruit and vegetables than most of the people I know!
Hence, I thought I should give this “5 a day” thing a go. I started on Monday, and in the past 5 days I’ve learnt these 5 things:
- Five a day is A LOT. All the photos above, excluding those with salad, would be about a full meal’s worth of food for me. – and I am no small eater. Getting 4 servings already requires a lot of planning and attention, and I’ve not hit 5 servings at all yet!
- I’m constantly eating. I’ve had to substitute my lunchtime carbs to accommodate the additional fruit and vegetables, but somehow I get hungry more quickly than usual. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, as I always thought these stuff are meant to fill you up for longer.
- It costs a fortune. Even though I’m also cutting down on some meat, which is considered the more costly part of a diet, I’m spending far more than usual getting the additional servings of fruit and vegetables. On the upside, I’m eating a wider variety of fruit and vegetables, which hopefully means I’m getting a better range of vitamins and minerals.
- Be careful of bad incidentals. I don’t usually do yoghurt, but thought it’ll go well with some blueberries I bought – until I realised just how much sugar a serving of yoghurt contains. Another thing to be mindful of while trying to get my 5 a day is to try as far as possible to eat the fruit and vegetables as they are, instead of spicing them up with salad dressings, dips or sauces.
- My digestive system is less regular. My system is somewhat out of whack – I’ve been on the toilet twice in five days, which is three times less than usual! I’m pretty sure this is related to me feeling slightly bloated and clogged up, and I’m waiting to see if this is just my body adjusting to the additional fruit and vegetables.
I’m going to try to see this through the weekend – I eat much better during the week than at the weekend – and stick at it for another week, before reevaluating to see how I can better get my 5 a day.
Is anyone out there struggling to get their recommended intake of fruit and vegetables? Or do you have tips and tricks to eating well? Share them in the comments below!