I’m not ashamed to say it- I love fruit and vegetables.[i] But sadly, not everyone shares my passion for produce. An estimated 80% of young people fail achieve the recommended five a day,[ii] increasing their risk of developing chronic diseases.[iii]
We all know that eating healthy is important. So why don’t we do it more often? Research shows that perceived physical, social and psychological barriers can get in the way of our best intentions.[iv] But good news- these obstacles can be overcome.
Here are the top three excuses students give for not eating enough fruit and veg, and how I don’t let these stop me reaching the magic five.
Excuse: ‘It’s too expensive!’
Unlike many wonderful fruits, money doesn’t grow on trees. This means you have to shop around for deals. I have bought unbelievably cheap fresh fruit and veg in the ‘reduced’ section at my local supermarket and the Moor Market. I also recommend you visit New Roots, conveniently located near the SU, for 5 fruit for £1.50. Alternatively, frozen veg is a great idea since it packs all the goodness of fresh, but doesn’t go off.
Excuse: ‘I don’t have time’
Did you have time to go on [insert favourite social media site here] for 10 minutes yesterday morning, lunch, and evening? Then you have no excuse.
I save time when cooking by sneaking extra fruit or veg into dishes that I already make. This means that everything can be cooking at the same time, and saves on the washing up! For example, berries on my cereal, lettuce on a sandwich, or peas in pesto pasta! If you feel pushed for time then batch cook veggies so they can be quickly reheated or buy pre-chopped veg and salad.
Excuse: ‘It’s boring’
I’m in total agreement that soggy sprouts on your nan’s Sunday lunch are boring, and quite frankly, disgusting. But fruit and vegetables can make dishes more exciting by adding different flavours, colours, and textures.
Here are three quick and easy recipes for turning boring into brilliant. They all take under 30 minutes, include less than 10 ingredients and are suitable for vegetarians.
Oven baked asparagus and eggs
Berry pocket eggy bread:
So stop making excuses. Follow my tips to make a little change here and there, and you’ll be on your way to five a day.
[i] So much so that I am spending the next three years studying a Psychology PhD in health behaviour, focusing on fruit and vegetable intake!
[ii] National Centre for Social Research: Health survey for England. 2008.
[iii] Boeing, H., Bechthold, A., Bub, A., Ellinger, S., Haller, D., Kroke, A., … Watzl, B. (2012). Critical review: vegetables and fruit in the prevention of chronic diseases. European Journal of Nutrition, 51(6), 637–663.
[iv] Herbert, G., Butler, L., Kennedy, O., & Lobb, A. (2010). Young UK adults and the 5 A DAY campaign: perceived benefits and barriers of eating more fruits and vegetables. International Journal Of Consumer Studies, 34(6), 657-664.