Growing up, I mostly avoided vegetables. There was the inevitable bargaining at the table for me and my siblings to eat more peas or whatever, but it didn’t extend much beyond that. No peas, no pudding. Thems were the rules. And, looking back, you can’t blame a parent for becoming weary with this daily struggle and occasionally letting us off the hook altogether. Happy Days! There were tastier things to enjoy than vegetables, which appeared as some sort of punishment we had to endure to get to the good stuff, like dessert.
GIVE PEAS A CHANCE
As adults, we can rationalise the necessity for vegetables in our diet, but this doesn’t save us from the daily dinner table battle with our spouse/kids.
These past few weeks, I’ve been pondering the things we know to be true, but still don't do. Like, eating more veg.
Study Reveals We Should Be Eating 10 Fruit & Veg a Day
What prompted this was a recent study, published by UCL, which concluded that we now need to be eating 10 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, not 5, in order for our diet to be considered healthy. Crikey. This is quite a moving of goalposts.
I think there’s a danger, when something seems unachievable, to just give up on it altogether, and I hope that’s not the legacy of this new research. What I find in clinic, when I make recommendations, is that people are unlikely to adopt them long term, unless they’re supported and equipped with strategies that help them achieve change. Same as anything in life, right?
Why We Fall Short
I know how difficult it is to access healthy food on the fly. When hunger strikes and there’s no time to make something from scratch, it’s all too easy to reach for something quick to satisfy our hunger. But fast food choices rarely support our health goals.
So, I wanted to share a strategy which I employ to ensure I always have access to healthy meals with lots of veggies.
Enter… Meal Planning
If you master meal planning, it’ll save you time, money and stress!
Meal planning centres around a single concept: getting organised! Here’s how you can do it:
As you make a note of the meal, calculate the number of vegetables it contains. Try and get the number to 3 by agreeing what veggies can be added, and in what form. Try to ensure at least one of these is green. If you need to be a bit stealthy about this, check out my Healthy Food Swaps Infographic below.
And there you have it! You’re on your way to less stressful and more nutritious mealtimes. When you plan out the week, you can easily see and adjust how many vegetables your family is eating and play around with the quantities until you reach a sweet spot where you’re happy and there’s not too much moaning.
Once you’ve completed a full week of meal planning, gather the family again and agree what worked well, what meals you’ll keep and what you’ll change for the coming week. I also think it’s a good time to give praise for any input over the last week and encourage people to get involved in meal prep for the coming week.
Stuck for Recipe Ideas?
You might like to try a service that sends you a week’s worth of recipes each week, like emeals.com, TheFresh20.com or TheScramble.com. I like these sites as they include healthy recipes that are quick and easy to prepare along with the grocery shopping list you’ll need to prepare them. Pricing starts at around US$5 per month but most of them offer a trial period and will send you a sample meal plan so you can try before you buy.
A few tips...
I hope this helps you and your family enjoy more nutritious, home-cooked meals.
Next time I’ll share my top tips to help you reach the 10-a-day fruit & veggie target. It’s easier than you think.
Till then, happy meal planning!
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Source: Study led by scientists at Imperial College London
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Hi, I'm Sian Burns.
This is where you'll find my thoughts on health, wellness and cancer recovery. Whether you’ve experienced a cancer diagnosis, or you’re just interested in healthier living, WELCOME! I hope you’ll find helpful information and resources in these pages.