Despite Australians being bombarded with healthy living and fitness messages, we’re sicker and fatter than ever before.
Part of the problem is that only 4 percent of adults are eating enough vegetables to meet dietary recommendations.
Nutrition Australia reports that obesity and ‘lost wellbeing’ from obesity are estimated to cost Australia around $58.2 billion annually.
Nearly two-thirds of Australian adults and one-quarter of children are considered overweight or obese.
The theme for National Nutrition Week, which runs from October 14 to 20 is “try for 5” and is aimed at encouraging all Australians to increase their vegetable consumption to the recommended five serves per day.
“Australians really don’t do very well when it comes to consuming enough vegetables,” according to senior nutritionist at Nutrition Australia Aloysa Hourigan.
“Only about 4 percent of adults eat the recommended amount of vegetables each day.
“More younger children meet their recommended intake of veggies, while teens – particularly boys aged 14 to 18 have the worst statistics, and aren’t eating enough vegetables.”
Eating vegetables is really important for our health.
Adults should be eating five serves of veggies each day and a serve equals half a cup of cooked veg (a total of two-and-a-half cups per day) or 75g (about one cup) of chopped raw vegetables, which equates to about five cups per day!
The average person is eating just half that amount.
“It’s quite hard to eat that amount of vegetables in just one meal,” Ms Hourigan said.
“So you need to try and add veggies to as many meals as possible and eating vegetables as snacks helps too.”
She recommends adding veggies to breakfast by popping some baby spinach or mushrooms in with eggs, swapping spreads for veggie toppings or having baked beans.
At lunch, sandwiches and wraps can easily include some salad for a more nutritious option.
Dinner was perhaps the simplest meal to adjust to include a few serves of vegetables, although recent eating trends show many people preferring meals like protein with pasta or rice.
“Veggies can easily be added to traditional dishes – grating zucchini into bolognese sauce, for example,” Ms Hourigan said.
“Or just simply add one more vegetable to your plate each night.”
The trick to good health, she said, is to eat a wide variety and as many different coloured veggies as possible.
“Aim to eat a variety of vegetables each day, in each meal, aim for what’s available each season.”.