It’s well known that in the UK, the recommended government guidelines state that we should eat five portions of fruits and vegetables a day. This doesn’t seem like a lot, because it isn’t but somehow I still fall short and eat less. Some days, I don’t manage to eat any so I down a glass of orange juice with dinner in the hopes that it will make a difference.
In other European countries they recommend seven portions and when I did some research into the anti-inflammatory diets that are recommended to chronic pain sufferers, they suggest nine portions a day. It’s thought by some that ten a day is the best way to go for optimum health. So, I decided to go super healthy and try to eat ten portions a day and document what happens.
In my teens, I ate very little fruit due to some illness and dietary restrictions that were outwith my control, so in my twenties I was angelic when it came to my diet. After having a child at thirty and becoming depressed, I then started to choose comfort foods over healthy foods. I also developed an itch whenever I ate apples or drank apple juice which made me fearful of fruits in the same family as apples and it snowballed into a weird aversion to fruits. Having conquered this, I now want to address the problems that have stemmed from that, i.e. my health has rapidly declined in the four years since the apple intolerance started.
My first job was to figure out how the hell I would fit all these fruits and vegetables into my diet. I mean, the logistics of it had me sighing before I even started. So, as I start tomorrow, I did a supermarket shop today for all sorts of things that count toward my ten-a-day. I headed for the dried fruits aisle first and picked up raisins and apricots. I then browsed and purchased a huge jar of olives, some pickled beetroot and onions and then some tinned peaches, mandarins and pears. Apparently beans and pulses count but I’m not a huge fan of lentils (my food hell, to be honest) so I stocked up on baked beans, kidney beans, canellini beans and chickpeas. I even bought a can of butter beans, which I haven’t had since I was a little girl but I was willing to try them again. I picked up canned tomatoes, sweetcorn, carrots and asparagus.
As for frozen foods, that was easy. I love peas, broccoli and cauliflower. Then, I bought fruit juice. Lots and lots of orange juice, pineapple juice and grapefruit juice.
Actually, there was quite a lot there. It looked like this was going to be easier than I thought, and that was before I even got onto the fresh items. Bananas, pears, sweet potatoes, butternut squash (my food heaven), cucumber, onions, carrots, leeks, celery, sweet potatoes, courgettes, strawberries, raspberries, pink grapefruit and cherries. I threw in a couple of corn cobs because I saw on a random website that someone likes having them instead of crisps at night. I like that idea.
I certainly wasn’t going to starve but my worry was that all the fresh food would be wasted. Well, that wasn’t the only thing I was worried about. I looked in my trolley and thought, this is a farting spree waiting to happen.
It’s surprising the things that count toward your fruit and vegetable intake that you would never imagine. Like popcorn? Seriously? Isn’t corn a grain rather than a vegetable anyway? There’s also a lot of conflicting advice out there, even from reliable sources. On the British Heart Foundation website I found one page advising that vegetable soups, olives and sandwich fillings count toward your five a day. Then on another page, it said they don’t because they’re too salty, too processed or so dilute in nutrients. It’s confusing, to say the least.
Then there’s portion sizes. Ugh, I feel like reaching for the ice-cream just thinking about trying to navigate all that. However, if in doubt, I will go with the old fashioned rule that a portion is either three tablespoons or as much as I can hold in the palm of my hand.
I’ll be updating regularly on my progress and if anyone would like to join me, please do!
I feel tired and sore. I don’t know what else to say. I have pain in my left foot, leg thigh, tummy, left buttock and groin area. My skin is ok but I look tired and pale. I have raging PMT today and a desire to get loads done but very little energy. I sleep well some nights and badly on others. It sometimes depends on how my son sleeps so it’s not really a good benchmark for my health. I get quite thirsty in the mornings. I struggle to eat whole meals and my appetite is poor. I crave chocolate and sugar often. Libido is low, probably due to the pain. I often feel depressed. My anxiety is managed quite well at the moment but I do have bad spells. I find it easy to smile but it’s not always a natural smile. There are all my complaints, things I am hoping will get fixed magically with a better diet. Disclaimer: I am also attending physiotherapy, but progress is slow.
Read the results of the challenge here.