10 day 10-a-day challenge

I recently read a post by Kezzie in which she challenged herself to see whether she ate 10 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, based on recent news that scientists say we should actually be eating 10-a-day and not 5 as previously advised.  That post inspired me to take the challenge myself and see whether I manage 10 portions of fruit and vegetables per day (although I was already fairly sure I wasn’t even reaching the originally advised 5!).

Coincidentally, I had read the news myself a few days before seeing Kezzie’s post and, after a discussion with Jan, ended up on the NHS website reminding myself of what constitutes a portion. Prior to that, I had assumed we were at least reaching the 5 on some days thanks to the amount of beans and chickpeas we eat, so I was horrified to discover that beans and pulses are only allowed to count as one portion per day no matter how many you eat! I had already decided then that I would need to start relying less on beans, but for the purposes of this experiment I stuck with our “normal” meals to give you an accurate picture of how we eat. So now you get to see just how awful my diet actually is…

Quick note: I’m not going to get into ridiculous fractions, so where an amount was less than 1 portion but more than half I will count it as half a portion. For instance, 7 cherry tomatoes is a portion so if I only had 5 I’ll call it half a portion.

I didn’t take photos of all my meals, so the collages are just a random selection. You can try to match the photos to the meals if you like 😉
I will also apologise in advance for the quality of my photography… I’m no good at food photos! Right, without any further ado, here we go:

Day 1:

Breakfast: Greek style yoghurt with honey and walnuts -> 0 portions
Lunch: Scrambled eggs with 5 cherry tomatoes -> ½ portion
Dinner: Tuna pasta bake containing:
– chickpeas and kidney beans (only allowed to count as one portion all together. Booo!) -> 1 portion
– Courgette -> 1 portion
– Tinned tomatoes -> third of a tin, so maybe 1½ portions?

Total: 4 portions

Day 2:
(I was in the office on this day so breakfast and lunch were purchased on the way and Jan was in charge of dinner!)

Breakfast: Chocolate croissant -> 0 portions
Lunch: “Veggie” baguette with avocado and feta -> I think it was ½ an avocado, so 1 portion
Dinner: Bread with cheese and ham -> 0 portions
Snacks: Dried apples and berries -> ½ portion
2 mini cakes -> 0 portions
Capri-Sun (contains fruit juice but definitely doesn’t count!) -> 0 portions

Total: 1½ portions

Day 3:

Breakfast: Nothing (naughty!) -> 0 portions
Lunch: Leftover tuna pasta bake (see above) -> 3½ portions
Dinner: Chilli con carne made with
– Kidney beans (not allowed to count because I had beans earlier in the day) -> 0 portions
– Red pepper -> 1 portion
– Tinned tomatoes -> half a tin, 2 portions?
Served in whole wheat tortillas with cheese and iceberg lettuce -> hopefully ½ portion
Snacks: Sweet potato crisps (sweet potato counts as veg. but I hardly had any crisps) -> o portions
Orange juice (can only count once no matter how much you drink!) -> 1 portion

Total: 7 portions

Day 4:
(We had visitors this day and dinner was at a restaurant)

Breakfast: Toast with jam (fruity but doesn’t count!) -> 0 portions
Lunch: Sausage roll -> 0 portions
Carrot, orange and ginger smoothie -> 1 portion
Dinner: Pizza with courgette and aubergine -> maybe ½ a portion
Panna cotta with a few bits of fruit -> 0 portions

Total: 1½ portions

Day 5:

Breakfast: Bread rolls with jam and chocolate spread -> 0 portions
Blood orange juice -> 1 portion
Lunch: Bread roll with cheese -> 0 portions
Dinner: Roasted butternut squash risotto
– Butternut squash -> 3 portions (it was a big vegetable!)
– Leek -> possibly ½ a portion
Snacks: Magnum ice cream (and I regret nothing!) -> 0 portions
Apple with almond purée -> 1 portion

Total: 5½ portions

Day 6:

Breakfast: Toast with jam -> 0 portions
Blood orange juice -> 1 portion
Lunch: Some just-add-water couscous thing -> 0 portions
Mango -> 1½ portions (I think)
Dinner: Corned beef hash. I always make it with baked beans, and this time I added borlotti beans as well to stretch it a bit since there weren’t as many potatoes left as I thought. -> 1 portion
Snacks: Mini packet of gummi bears -> 0 portions
Chocolate chip cookie -> 0 portions

Total: 3½ portions

Day 7:

Breakfast: Porridge (apple & cinnamon flavour, but not enough apple to count!) -> 0 portions
Lunch: Lemon pepper fish with potato croquettes -> 0 portions
Dinner: Pepper stuffed with a quinoa/bulgar wheat mix and feta cheese -> 2 portions
Served with salad consisting of the remaining feta cheese plus:
Lamb’s lettuce -> ½ portion
Apple -> ½ portion
Avocado -> 1 portion

Total: 4 portions

Day 8:

Breakfast: Nothing -> 0 portions
Lunch: Leftover stuffed pepper -> 2 portions
Orange juice -> 1 portion
Dinner: Sausage casserole containing:
Cannellini beans -> 1 portion
Carrots -> 1 portion
Tinned tomatoes -> 2 portions?
Served with sweet potato mash (counts as veg. Yay!) -> 2 portions
Snack: Chocolate brownie (and now you also know why I’m failing to lose weight…) -> 0 portions

Total: 9 portions

Day 9:

Breakfast: Chia & cashew muesli bar (contains raisins, but not enough) -> 0 portions
Lunch: Lemon pepper fish (yes, again!) -> 0 portions
Crackers with hummus -> 1 portion
Dinner: Chicken enchiladas made with;
Kidney beans (don’t count because of hummus for lunch) -> 0 portions
Courgette -> ½ portion
Tinned tomatoes -> 1 portion

Total: 2½ portions

Day 10:

Breakfast: Crackers (what? It’s a perfectly good breakfast 😉 ) -> 0 portions
Lunch: Orange juice -> 1 portion
Leftover enchiladas. I had half the amount I’d eaten the night before but I then had the other half for dinner since Jan didn’t eat his before he left for the weekend soooo….
Dinner: Leftover enchiladas. Dinner + lunch enchiladas combined -> 2½ portions
I ate my dinner enchilada with an avocado -> 2 portions
Snacks: An apple with almond purée -> 1 portion

Total: 6½ portions

So, what have I learned? Well, nothing that I didn’t already suspect: most of the time I fail to get up to 5 portions, never mind 10! I actually managed 5 portions 4 times (less than half the days *sigh), and all of those days were actually over the 5 (although once it was only over by half a portion!). I came closest to 10 portions on day 8 – should have replaced that brownie with an apple 😉

In the interests of full disclosure, I should tell you that I drank more juice this week than I usually would because I bought for breakfast when we had guests and I needed to get it used up, so apart from on day 3 (when I had a small carton) every day that I had juice I would normally have had one portion less. Usually I tend to shy away from juice because I feel calories that are used for drinks are wasted calories (mostly I drink water and tea – the tiny bit of milk in tea doesn’t make much difference to my calories). Juice is an easy way to get an additional portion though, so maybe I should consider drinking juice every day and getting extra exercise to make up for it? I do sometimes drink smoothies

So, what can I do to improve my fruit and veg intake? Well, apart from consistently drinking a glass of juice, I need to replace some of my pulses with other vegetables since I now know hardly any of them are allowed to count. There goes my lazy tuna pasta bake that doesn’t require me to chop any vegetables *sigh*. I could also replace most of my snacks with fruit – in February I ate an apple with almond paste most days, and that’s something I should probably try to get back into. An apple a day and replacing half the beans in meal with another vegetable would add two an extra portions and hopefully push those days that I do exceptionally badly at least up to the 5 mark! Finally, during these 10 days I ate leftovers for lunch three times (because Jan had forgotten to take them to work with him – which is why I ended up being left with 2 day old tuna pasta bake!). So another idea would be to make enough dinner for both of us to have some the next day and have leftovers for lunch more often instead of shoving some fish in the oven or eating a convenience meal containing few or no vegetables.

Do you eat 10 portions of vegetables a day? Would you be willing to take this challenge?

Check out Kezzie’s post for an example of someone doing a much better job at healthy eating 😉
And if you’ve actually read all this please feel free to award yourself a virtual gold star!


19 thoughts on “10 day 10-a-day challenge

  1. I’m afraid I have more bad news for you – the portions are supposed to be different fruits/veggies, I believe, so your 1.5 portions of tomatoes in the tuna bake probably only counts as one portion! Boo hiss. Mind you, I think you may do better than me – I don’t manage enough fruit or veg most days. 4 portions, if you’re lucky! (Mind you, that doesn’t include wine – grape juice – or chocolate – cocoa beans. If you add those then I’m doing better!!)

  2. No and no. 🙂 However, I did just eat a bunch of cherry tomatoes with mozzarella & basil for a snack, so it’s past lunch and I’m up to one portion. I can’t handle food rules like this. I’d first have to research how many grams makes a portion, and I’m sure that varies per veggie. I feel good when I get in one salad during a week. I usually intend to make a salad but then lose interest.

    I commend you for giving this a shot. I might consider trying on one day to see if I can get to 10 portions of fruits & veggies, but I fear my digestive system would be screaming, WTH?!? afterwards. WAIT!!! I just remembered I ate a banana this morning – TWO portions, Baby!! I wonder what a smoothie counts for. We make those often in the summer.

    1. I think smoothies only get to count as one, like juice. I could be wrong though! It’s hard to find grams – mostly it’s stuff like 1 apple, 7 cherry tomatoes (but what if some are huge?!). It’s basically always 80g though, so you need loooooads of salad. Oh, and 150 ml for juice, but only the first 150ml counts.

  3. Does it even itself out? Eg I might have only three portions on one day but then have seven the next? I am rubbish when it comes to my diet. Better than I once was though.

  4. Well done for giving this a try! I was afraid to mention in the comments that each veg eaten only counts as one portion but that Alison beat me to it with her comment! What definitely helps with my intake I’d the fact that I HAVE to go past Aldi on my way home so I can always stock up daily on the fruit and veg if needed and it is cheap. This was a particularly good week though, I doubt I manage to do that AALLL the time. That said, we do eat a lot of veg, usually 4 portions in our evening dinner alone as I honestly feel it when I don’t eat enough veg. Fruit I actually find harder but because of the engineering works on the train making me late for work, I’ve taken to making myself a snack fruit box to eat on the way in case I don’t have time to eat cereal at school!

    1. Well in that case it is 100% physically impossible and the NHS are clearly insane!! NOBODY can eat 10 different vegetables every single day! I’m not even sure I know 10 different vegetables!!

      1. Hmmm…
        I’m now intrigued about which ones we eat regularly…
        courgette, aubergine, tomatoes, leeks, onions/shallots, cavalo nero cabbage – that’s six
        Butternut squash, sweet potatoes, peppers, peas, sweet corn,
        That’s 12….
        Pak choi, broccoli, cauliflower…
        I suppose it is possible but then there would not be much room for anything else!
        Plus fruit I guess..

      2. Veg. we eat regularly: tomatoes, courgette, carrots, chick peas/various beans, leek, sweet potato, peppers, avocado = 8. I can’t think of a single day where we eat every single one of those though! Things we eat semi-regularly: peas, sometimes aubergine (it’s expensive here though!). Spinach when it’s in season. Pumpkins/squashes in autumn and winter – they’re gone from shops now though until about September. Lamb’s lettuce, mainly in spring/summer. If I ate a whole portion of every one of those every day I would get enough veg, but it sounds like A LOT of food and a very boring diet!

  5. 10 portions is really difficult! I’m sad that jam doesn’t count. What about raisins? You could add a banana to your yogurt or porridge in the mornings. I’m probably doing well to get 5. Though hopefully now that it’s summer, I’ll be having more salads. Your diet sounds pretty good btw. Think I eat more chocolate and snacks (though trying to cut back)

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