A recent study by Imperial College London revealed that whilst eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day is great, 10 might be even better. The authors looked at the associations between eating more and more portions of fruit and veg and the risk of developing serious health problems like heart disease and cancer, and found that eating 800g of the stuff minimised a person’s risk the most and could prevent 7.8 million premature deaths globally per year. The idea behind 10 portions comes from the recommended 80g portion size for each different type of fruit or veg you eat. Now we all know the importance of eating our greens (and other coloured produce) but for many it is easier said than done.
The stereotype of a typical student diet depicts a daily intake far from the balanced food wheel we were all taught in food tech. Sporadic deadlines, intense periods of revision and all-nighters in the library are common place on campuses, and the lack of regular routine or income limits what students can afford to buy and find the time to cook. The rise of ‘health’ bloggers plugging various different diets (often with little scientific evidence to support their claims), more and more so-called super foods and increasing ethical and environmental concerns around certain food groups makes it even more confusing to know what to eat, let alone actually afford to buy it.
So unsurprisingly, 10-a-day seems like an impossible feat for many, myself included, and just another thing to think about as you trudge around your local supermarket trying not to go over this week’s budget. Suddenly having control over our own finances and diet when moving away from home to university can also be highly stressful for some people, especially those with a difficult relationship with food. This research does show that eating higher levels of fruit and veg is better to minimise disease risk to a certain extent yes, but the important thing to remember is the advice that has robustly stood the test of time and outlasted all the fad diets and food trends: eat a bit of everything but in moderation. We all know that a diet of purely carbohydrates is hardly the healthiest, but neither is a day of eating just fruit and vegetables, no matter how determined you are to meet this new 10 portion goal.
- The SU holds a fresh food market every Tuesday in term time so utilise that if you can.
- For further advice, the NHS has detailed and interactive guidance on its website: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/the-eatwell-guide.aspx
- If you’re concerned about your own relationship with food or somebody else’s, then contact Beat on their helpline for adults – 0808 801 0677, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or their helpline for young people – 0808 801 0711, or email email@example.com