Vegetables are full of nutrients, antioxidants and fibre! Are you getting enough veggies in your diet? Chances are, you’re not. The Australian government reports that:
- In 2014–15, 50% of adults and 68% of children ate sufficient serves of fruit, and 7% of adults and 5% of children ate sufficient serves of vegetables.
- For adults aged 65–74, 60% had a sufficient fruit intake, and 11% had a sufficient vegetable intake.
- For children aged 2–3, 97% ate sufficient serves of fruit and 20% ate sufficient serves of vegetables.
- Overall, 5% of adults had a sufficient intake of both fruit and vegetables. Women were more likely to eat sufficient fruit and vegetables than men (8% compared with 3%). (1)
A sufficient amount of vegetables is 5 serves per day and according to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, adults should be eating 5-6 serves of vegetables per day. The diagram below shows what a serve consists of.
(Image taken from Eating for Health brochure)
How to Get More Vegetables In
Here are some of my tips on how to get more vegetables into your day:
- Order a regular fruit and vegetable delivery. There is a plethora of delivery services available now. Why not try a mixed seasonal box from a fruit and vegetable providore? You could try your local fruit and veg shop and see if they do mixed boxes, or use a dedicated service. You could also join a coop, by paying for a regular supply, you help the farmer out, celebrating the fruits of their labour when the produce is ready to eat. Getting a mixed box is a great way to get a variety of fruits and vegetables that you wouldn’t normally buy.
- Keep your vegetables in a prominent place in the fridge. Remember the saying “Out of sight, out of mind.” If your vegetables are stuck in the back of the vegetable drawer, you’re less likely to eat them while they’re fresh.
- Prepare your vegetables ahead of time. I wash all my fruit and vegetables as soon as I get them, which means that there’s one less thing to do when it’s time to eat them. I also prepare my veggies for lunch the next day at dinner time; while I’m cutting the veggies for dinner, I’m also throwing together a salad for tomorrow’s lunch, or veggie sticks for snacks. You could even go so far as to spend some time on the weekend cutting and cooking them for the next few days; if you want to be extra-well prepared, you could cook your veggies and freeze them for the end of the week.
- Add more vegetables to dinner. By simply adding one more vegetable to your meal, you can add another serve of veggies into your day. Already having broccoli, carrot & zucchini for dinner? Add some cauliflower or beans. If you’re having home-made pizza’s try a cauliflower pizza base, or add some roasted vegetables to the toppings. If you’re having pasta, throw some baby spinach through the sauce at the last minute, or try mixing the spaghetti with zucchini noodles. What about a curry? Substitute half your rice with cauliflower rice.
- Add vegetables to breakfast. Do you enjoy eggs for breakfast? Add some veggies such as spinach, tomato, avocado and/or mushrooms to your breakfast. Cook extra veggies at dinner time to have with your breakfast.
- Drink your vegetables. Smoothies give you a great opportunity to add veggies. Add a handful of baby spinach into your protein smoothie in the mornings, or make a fresh juice with whatever fruit and veg you have on hand. One of my favourite combinations is apple, lemon or lime, baby spinach, cucumber, celery and ginger; but if I don’t have one of those it really doesn’t matter – you can add other things as well: beetroot, carrot, pear, the list is endless!
- Swap raw vegetables for crackers. Do you enjoy a cheese and cracker, or a cracker & dip? Why not swap the cracker for some veggie sticks? Carrot, capsicum, cucumber and celery work really well.
- Swap your meat for vegetables. Having burgers for dinner? Swap out the meat patties for large field mushrooms or make some lentil burger patties. What about a curry – swap the meat for tofu or eggplant. Mexican? No problem – make corn & tomato salsa to go with your tacos instead of mince or use large pieces of iceberg lettuce instead of a taco shell. How about a veggie lasagne – layer veggies such as zucchini, eggplant, pumpkin, capsicum and sweet potato through your tomato sauce?
- Include frozen vegetables. There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying frozen veggies. Often the veggies are snap frozen straight from the farm, so all the nutrients are snap frozen too. Sometimes, this can be more nutritious option than eating veggies that have been sitting in transport or on the supermarket shelves for days or weeks. If you’ve got a selection of frozen veggies in your freezer, you’ll always have backup for those times when you just can’t get to the shops.
- Aim for 2 meat-free nights each week. Increase your veggie intake by participating in “Meat-Free Mondays”, a movement aimed to reduce meat consumption and increase more plant-based foods into people’s diets. You may want to start by doing just one night a week and then once the family is used to the idea, introduce another meat-free night each week.
If you really can’t stand the idea of vegetables in your diet, book an appointment with one of our Nutritionists or Naturopaths so that we can delve a bit deeper and find some things that may work for you.
- Australia’s Health 2018, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, viewed on 15 October 2021, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/australias-health-2018/contents/indicators-of-australias-health/fruit-and-vegetable-intake