How to eat your 5 a day portions of fruit and vegetables

fruit saladI feel that one of the ‘greenest’ things we can do is take responsibility for our health. One of the most self sufficient things we can do is to empower ourselves with knowledge in order to take care of ourselves.

If we stay healthy we don’t need to go to the doctors. That means less travelling and less medication that invariably comes with a huge carbon footprint attached. 24 million prescriptions for Prozac are written in Great Britain every year and three years ago, traces of Prozac were found in the UK drinking water supply. That is probably only the tip of the iceberg.

A recent survey by the Health Food Manufacturer’s Association (HFMA), showed that two thirds of British people are unaware potatoes do not count towards their ‘5 a day’ portions of fruit and vegetables. They are tucking into roast, mash and chips believing they are fulfilling the five a day guidelines.

Two thirds of people say they are confused by Government guidelines and 20% ignore them altogether.

Research showed that only 15% of British women and 13% of men ate the recommended five portions of fruit or vegetables per day. In addition, 40% of women and 30% of men substitute their diets with supplements.

Many experts believe that supplementation is vital. I don’t follow that at all and feel that the best source of vitamins and minerals comes from food; despite tales of doom and gloom about the demineralised soil we have.

Eating organic, seasonal and local produce (preferably home grown) gives you better chance of eating food that is bursting with vitality. Shrink wrapped offerings flown fromroasted vegetables the other side of world, grown with extensive pesticides, intensively farmed and kept in cold storage are bound to be lacking in essential vitamins and minerals.

A recent Government paper acknowledged that 70,000 premature deaths per year could be avoided if UK diets followed nutritional guidelines. With one fith of men and one quarter of women in this country clinically obese; it is estimated that 30,000 people die prematurely every year from obesity-related conditions.

It’s a world gone mad when obesity is more of a worldwide problem than starvation. My feeling is that we are overfed and undernourished in the West………

Little Miss Green knew at the age of six about eating her five portions a day. So if a six year old can understand it, I’m going to make it my business to ensure all the adults in this country understand it.

I’ve aimed to make the guidelines as easy to understand as possible with these four simple ‘rules’

it’s easy to eat five a day!1- From the age of 6 onwards, a portion size is around 80g or 3oz
2- Potatoes DO NOT count as a portion
3- However much fruit juice you drink in a day, it only ever counts as one portion
4- However much salad you eat in a day, it only ever counts as one portion

In practical terms a portion amounts to:

3 small florets of broccoli or cauliflower
1 large carrot
1/2 a pepper
4 tbsp peas or sweetcorn
8 baby or 2 medium tomatoes
1 whole apple, banana, orange or pear
12 – 16 berries, grapes or cherries
5 large dried fruit
1/2 mango
1/4 pineapple or melon

Any other items can be easily weighed.

It’s not exactly rocket science is it?

In future posts, I’ll share some foolproof ways to effortlessly include 5 a day into your diet. Once you’ve mastered that, I’m going to share a fun and easy way to ensure you eat a healthy, balanced and gorgeous diet the Little Miss Green way.

Please share any tips you have for making these guidelines less confusing and share your favourite ways of ensuring you eat 5 – a – day!


  1. Melissa on April 1, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Mrs. Green, I couldn’t agree more – the absolute best thing we can do is take care of ourselves.
    Your post gave Me a kick in the derriere because I haven’t been as careful lately in getting in all our fruits and veggies. Tsk Tsk on me! It’s always on my mind, but in a rush I just usually get out the peanut butter and graham crackers. Like somehow an apple is more time consuming to wash.
    So thanks Lady! πŸ™‚

  2. Mrs Green on April 1, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Hiya πŸ™‚

    Well, I’m not surprised you have been a bit slack with taking care of yourself recently with a young babe to look after. But I’m sure you know that this is the most IMPORTANT time for you to put yourself first in many ways.
    I’m glad the post resonated with you – maybe one of your ‘be kind to me’ days could be about preparing yourself a delicious and nutritious meal; you know how good that feels πŸ˜‰

    have a lovely evening
    Mrs Green x

  3. Missus @ Escape to the Farm on April 20, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Thank you for posting on what I believe is an important health issue.

    Adding more produce to one’s diet can be done quite economically if one takes advantage of in-season specials, and grows/preserves food where possible.

    I’ve recently started adding (thawed) frozen unsweetened berries to my daughter’s breakfast. She regards it as a special treat.

  4. Mrs Green on April 24, 2010 at 6:48 am

    @Missus @ Escape to the Farm: Hey πŸ™‚ You’re welcome; thanks for sharing your tips too on managing this with a limited budget – it makes sense for pocket, environment and health to eat seasonal foods. The berries sound delicious. I too have some in the freezer to use up; can you use them in smoothies without defrosting them?
    I just read your post about it being too cold to sow, but that all the weeds are up – we have that exact same issue πŸ˜‰

  5. Missus@ Escape to the Farm on April 27, 2010 at 2:33 am

    Hi Mrs. Green;

    I use the berries in the morning on my daughters’ cereal, pancake or yogurt/granola. A smoothie is a bit too much of a “recipe” for me to put together before my morning coffee has kicked in. But I would think they could be used frozen.

    Hope your weather has improved; we are able to seed some vegetables now.

  6. Mrs Green on May 12, 2010 at 7:00 am

    @Missus@ Escape to the Farm: Hi πŸ™‚ Thanks for getting back to me on this; I’ll give it a go! I’m planning on doing some seed planting once the new moon has arrived on Friday – I like to experiment with moon gardening πŸ™‚