“I want to eat more veg, but…”
Eat ‘five-a-day’. “Eat your greens”. The message from health professionals is relentless and clear – eat more fruit and vegetables. Yet, over the past few days the UK media has reported on a poll of 1500 people conducted by Organic UK that suggests when it comes to eating vegetables many of us seem incapable of incorporating them into our eating routines. The survey found:
- some 68% of people polled had not put anything green on their plate for more than a week
- one in 20 had not eaten a single green vegetable in a month or longer
- the average adult consumed just three fruit and veg a day
The survey also revealed that white and starchy carbohydrates, including chips, pasta and potatoes, make up the majority (35%) of dinner plates – little wonder chronic disease is on the rise.
Cause for hope?
However, for me some of the most heart-breaking statistics included:
- the 17% admitting they feel guilty all the time due to their diet
- 16% saying they feel ‘unhealthy’
- 13% going as far as to say their diet was making them unhappy
This points to a significant group of people across the UK knowing what they should be eating but trapped by poor eating routines; either they don’t know how to change, or else struggle to make the switch to healthier eating habits. Well, No Targets Just Routine is dedicated to helping, but first, for the 6% admitting they eat badly all the time, some important reasons why it pays to become a mindful eater, rather than a mindless muncher.
Food that can help our health
Antioxidants, beta-carotene, carotenoids, these are a few of the properties that underpin why a diet high in fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, herbs and spices are key determinants in our health and general wellbeing.
Food that can harm our health
Oxidation, inflammation – these are the damaging reactions within our bodies we need to minimise to reduce the risk of chronic disease. Take ready-meals as an example of processed foods, which lose a significant amount of their nutritional value due to their processing. By the time of their purchase ready-meal ingredients are no longer fresh, having endured cooked or partially cooked preparation temperatures during manufacturing. To stabilise a ready-meal for a long shelf life means adding preservatives, salt, sugar and unhealthy fats. Consuming ready-meals on a regular basis denies you the nutrients of real food and can contribute to childhood and adult obesity.
Guilt free food for a healthier and happier life
The easiest way to eat smart is to max out on the most nutrient rich options: fruit & veg. Consider the nutritional linked benefits to be gained:
Oxidation reactions can produce cancer causing free radicals. These radicals can start a chain reaction, which can cause damage or death to cells in the body. Antioxidants are a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules, terminating chain reactions by removing free radicals. The best source of antioxidants is through fresh real food – nutrients (vitamins and minerals) as well as enzymes (proteins in the body which assist in chemical reactions).
Beta-carotenes are an organic compound and is one of a group of natural chemicals known as carotenes or carotenoids. Carotenes are responsible for the orange colour of many fruits and vegetables. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, good sources being carrots, sweet potatoes and cantaloupe melon.
Another line of defence against the damaging effects of free radicals, as well as exhibiting anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-diabetic properties, flavonoids are polyphenolic plant compounds and are naturally occurring in fruit, vegetables, green tea and dark chocolate.
Phytonutrient (or phytochemical) is a term that refers to a wide variety of compounds produced by plants that have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Studies have shown that phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of some cancers. The colour of fruits and vegetables can be an indicator to the phytonutrient content, the more colourful or deeper in colour, the higher the content.
Lifestyle change as a solution to a damaging diet
Vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, herbs, spices – all plant-based real foods rich in nutrition, delivering so many benefits to health and general wellbeing. My bet is most of the people surveyed know why they should be adopting healthier eating habits, one based upon eating a non-processed, colourful and more vegetable-based diet; what they are struggling with is how to make the changes?
Awareness of what we are eating, mindfulness about our food choices are both good places to start. Increasingly people are successfully using such mechanisms to improve health and help reverse chronic diseases, once they overcome the challenge in changing behaviour.
There is no question, developing new eating habits can be tough. Developing the right mindset, acquiring the right tactics, receiving encouragement – while also being held accountable in adopting change – may be what many need to help them move toward a healthier lifestyle. In the meantime, join the 10,000+ registered users working to change their eating habits through Just Routine, the real food app.
For people struggling with stress and emotional eating, we now feature a course hosted by Ian Thomas RD. If you are interested in a mindset, methods and mechanisms to help deal with any such issues I invite you to click here and check it out.
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