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How to get your five veg a day

Friday 15 March, 2013 by Amy

It's pretty common knowledge that most adults don't eat their recommended 5 serves of veg a day. In fact, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, less than one in 10 of us actually manage to achieve this seemingly monumental task.

So ... why is that?

Cancer Council Victoria thought it was an interesting question, so we put together a survey and asked Victorian men and women exactly what the issues are.

Of the 81% of adults who admitted they don't always put away their 5 a day:

  • 53% said it was because it's too hard to fit them in
  • 20% said they had no time to prepare them
  • 18% said they were bored from eating the same vegies
  • 15% said vegetables are too expensive
  • 10% said they didn't like the taste

Rather than throw our arms up in defeat, we then asked respondents if they might eat more vegies if some of these barriers were addressed and a whopping 77% said yes! So after delving a little deeper, we discovered:

  • 35% said they would eat more vegies if they had more time
  • 33% said if vegies were more affordable
  • 29% said they would if they knew more interesting recipes
  • 20% said if they knew how to cook different types of vegetables
  • 16% said if they could find a wider range of products

The thing is, vegetables contain lots of essential nutrients and are naturally low in fat, which helps maintain a healthy body weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of many chronic diseases including cancer. So it's pretty important we get our daily quota.

So how can we tackle this?

Firstly, we don't have to wait until dinner to start our daily vegie intake, and nor do we need to spend all day preparing healthy, tasty, vegie-rich meals.

Getting on your way to five a day can be as simple as adding some spinach or beets to your morning smoothie, or snacking on raw vegies like carrot and celery.

When it comes to cooking your vegies there are countless different and simple methods to keep your taste buds on their toes. Try steaming, blanching, roasting, stir-frying, boiling or sautéing – there are so many appliances available to help get the job done quickly.

If you're in a vegie rut or worried about the cost, try to select what's in season instead of just buying what you're used to eating. Vegetables in season will always be more affordable and taste their best.

Food and cooking should be about bringing people together. If you're bored and you can't think of new recipes or ways to prepare your vegies, ask your friends and family, or open up those cookbooks that have been gathering dust on your kitchen shelf. There are so many fresh ideas at our disposal, being bored is no excuse!

A serve of vegetables includes one cup of salad, half a cup of legumes such as chickpeas or lentils, or half a cup of cooked vegetables.

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