Although the week has already started, this week marks National Nutrition Week! This is an opportunity for everyone to have a look at what they are eating, and look to make some changes where they think it can be appropriate. It is not a time to feel bad about what you are eating or criticise yourself, but a learning tool. We learn new things every day, and the same goes for food, no matter how long you have been eating for ?

The focus of National Nutrition Week this year is Try for 5! This is all about making sure that we are eating sufficient serves of vegetables every day, to ensure that we are getting a variety of nutrients to help our cells function, to help absorb other nutrients, to give us lots of fibre for our bowel health, to make us feel nice and full after a meal, and to show us what a delicious variety of foods we have available to us every day.

So we are aiming for 5, but what does that mean? It definitely encourages us to eat 5 kinds of vegetables every day (eating the rainbow is important for getting in a range of nutrients), but wants us to also eat 5 serves of vegetables. The number of servings can slightly vary based on age group and gender, but 5 is a fantastic number for everyone to try to aim for.

What is a serve of vegetable?

  • ½ cup of cooked green or orange vegetable – such as carrot, broccoli, and pumpkin, but also includes cauliflower, zucchini, cabbage, and sprouts;
  • ½ cup of cooked, dried, or canned legumes – such as chick peas, lentils, or kidney beans;
  • 1 cup of green leafy or raw salad vegetables – such as lettuce, spinach, or capsicum;
  • ½ cup of sweet corn, or roughly 1 ear;
  • ½ medium potato or other starchy vege – such as sweet potato, or taro;
  • ½ cup of canned vegetable – such as tomato, beetroot, or asparagus;
  • 1 medium tomato.

Vegetables can be made so differently to be enjoyed, and it does take some imagination or inspiration to do things differently. Steamed vegies can be jazzed up with some spices added to the water prior to cooking or sprinkling on top after cooking, or roasted vegetables can have some Italian herbs added while cooking to give them a different flavour. Salads can be made up differently with the use of homemade sauces (yoghurt based ones are delicious!), or by adding very tasty ingredients such as olives, capers, or bitey cheese. There is a blog post coming up about some more summer salad ideas.

Working out how to increase your vegie servings can take some time and creativity, but slowly increasing it can be the easiest way to do it. This was you learn to purchase the right amount of vege without any going to waste, you give your bowels a chance to be ready for the increased fibre intake, and you will try new things that you haven’t had before.

For more info about whether your daily vegetable servings are appropriate, come in and see one of our Accredited Practising Dietitians.