For most of us, knowing that eating enough vegetables on a daily basis is important for good health, however research shows that only 8.2% of Australian adults are actually consuming the recommended quantities of vegetables.
I like to recommend to aim for at least 5 serves (being the recommended amount for adults) of vegetables on a daily basis. A serve is ½ cup cooked vegetables, or 1 cup salad. The reaction I often receive is something along the lines of ‘that is so much food’.
Given that recent stats show that just over 35% of daily intake is coming from ‘discretionary foods’, it is not surprising it seems difficult to fit the veggies in! Examples of discretionary choices are ‘sweet biscuits, cakes, desserts and pastries; processed meats and sausages; ice-cream and other ice confections; confectionary and chocolate; savoury pastries and pies; commercial burgers; commercially fried foods; potato chips, crisps and other fatty and/or salty snack foods; cream, butter and spreads which are high in saturated fats; sugar sweetened soft drinks and cordials, sports and energy drinks and alcoholic drinks’.
So which veggies are best, and how can you best fit them in?
When it comes down to it, I am not too fussed which ones; they all provide good nutrition. I like to suggest you eat the ones you find delicious. From an anti-inflammatory perspective, leafy greens, Asian style mushrooms and sprouts are particularly great options, but the more colour on your plate the better, as this means more variety of flavonoids and polyphenols.
Where to fit? Well, if you try to eat all five serves in one sitting, I am not surprised it is challenging! Splitting it up feels much more manageable.
Maybe having 2 cups of salad with your lunch, and 1.5 cups cooked vegetables with your dinner.
Or if this still feels like too much, swapping one of these serves for a cup of chopped veggie sticks to have for your afternoon snack (a particular favourite of mine is snow peas or green beans!).
Or, include them in your breakfast, maybe its sautéing spinach and mushroom to have with eggs, or choosing the breakfast salad, found in our new cookbook. Or maybe it’s adding some veggies to your morning smoothie?
But what about if I’m intolerant to FODMAPs? Or salicylates and amines? It makes sense to choose the vegetables that make you feel good. If salicylates and amines are an issue for you, choosing beetroot or asparagus instead of tomato is a good choice, or if FODMAPs are a problem, then spinach and tomato would be great choices. Both? Green beans and Brussels sprouts are something to consider!
Incorporating a mix of vegetables so you feel your healthiest self, is essential, and planning ahead so you know where you can fit them in, makes it much easier to fit more veggies in your diet.