Healthy Living Day 2: Eat 5 Servings of Fruits & Vegetables

This is Day 2 of the 14-Day Healthy Living Challenge where hundreds of participants around the world work together to improve on their diet and fitness in January 2015. The challenge is now over, but you can do the tasks in your own time. Visit the overview page for all tasks and posts.

Healthy Living Challenge

Hi everyone!! 😀 I hope all of you had a great New Year’s Day yesterday. We’re now entering Day 2 of our 14-Day Healthy Living Challenge. Let’s get started!

Over 220 Participants!! Are You IN or OUT???

If you’re not in the challenge yet, it’s not too late! Join us NOW in living healthily for the first 14 days of the new year! Participation is 100% free!!

My Day 1 in Pictures

I’ve already posted about my Day 1 progress and photos of my Day 1 meals, but thought to share the photos here too! Here’s a recap of my Day 1 in pictures:

Grilled mushroom overload burger and banana

Brunch: Grilled mushroom overload burger and banana. I bought this from Cedele (my current favorite eatery) which serves healthy handmade food without trans fat, preservatives, and emulsifiers!

Mushroom and pineapple salad

Dinner: Large mushroom and pineapple salad. The serving was so big that I had to ask Ken to help me finish it!

Grilled red pepper and tomato soup, banana, and water

Supper: Grilled red pepper and tomato soup, bread, and another banana. (I later had a slice of bread with peanut butter which isn’t in the picture.)

My 14-Day Healthy Living Challenge goals are to (1) exercise at least three times a week (I’ll be exercising tomorrow / Day 2), (2) Cut out deep fried / oily food from my diet (no fried / oily food in my Day 1 diet, so this is met!), (3) Eat salads more regularly, ideally once a day if I can (yep, ate a salad for dinner, so this is met on Day 1)! All checked for Day 1! 😀

Day 1’s task is to drink the right amount of water and I kept myself plenty hydrated throughout the day. Drank some water every couple of hours (and I actually have a big glass that has a 14 oz / 400+ ml capacity, so I easily met my 1.7 liters / 56 oz of water requirement on a non-active day.

As I often get very engrossed in my work (or say when I’m having a coaching session or a course and can’t walk away), I got a jug from IKEA so that I don’t need to leave my desk for a water refill. The great thing is this jug has a 1.7 liter / 56 oz capacity, which exactly matches my water requirements on a non-active day! Grinning smiley

Check out other participants’ amazing food logs and progress updates in Day 1’s comments section!

With that, let’s move to Day 2’s task, which is…

Day 2: Eat 5 Servings of Fruits & Vegetables

Vegetables and fruits

Did you know it’s recommended for us to have at least five servings (or even up to 13, depending on your caloric intake) of fruits and vegetables a day, every day? (Each serving is equivalent to a 80g portion.) This is based on a recommendation World Health Organization that individuals consume “a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables per day,” excluding potatoes and other starchy tubers. This subsequently gave rise to the “5 A Day” campaign in many countries, encouraging people to consume (at least) five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

Unfortunately, the average American gets a total of just three servings of fruits and vegetables a day! Lest you think that this only happens to non-vegetarians, vegetarians can also consume insufficient fruits and vegetables by relying on a diet full of starches and refined carbohydrates (think pastas, white rice, sugary foods, desserts, etc.). Sometimes, some of us consume vegetables by way of the tiny slice of lettuce and tomato in a burger and think that’s enough for the day. Clearly, this isn’t enough.

Perhaps you’ve always been told that eating fruits and vegetables is good for you but never really understood why. The fact is that fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals perhaps more than any other food in the planet. Many studies have pointed to the direct benefits of eating fruits and vegetables on our health, including (1) reducing high blood pressure, (2) fighting against cancer, and (3) lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke. Consider the following excerpt from Harvard | School of Public Health:

The largest and longest study to date […] included almost 110,000 men and women whose health and dietary habits were followed for 14 years. The higher the average daily intake of fruits and vegetables, the lower the chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Compared with those in the lowest category of fruit and vegetable intake (less than 1.5 servings a day), those who averaged 8 or more servings a day were 30 percent less likely to have had a heart attack or stroke.

Although all fruits and vegetables likely contribute to this benefit, green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and mustard greens; cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale; and citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit (and their juices) make important contributions.

When researchers combined findings from the Harvard studies with several other long-term studies in the U.S. and Europe, and looked at coronary heart disease and stroke separately, they found a similar protective effect: Individuals who ate more than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per [day] had roughly a 20 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, compared with individuals who ate less than 3 servings per day.

Without a doubt, fruits and vegetables are mainstays in our daily diet if we wish for a rich and healthy life.

For today’s task, we’re going to consume at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables!

Step 1: Pick a variety of fruits/vegetables of different (bright) colors (10 min)

Did you know that fruits and vegetables with bright colors are usually high in anti-oxidants? Anti-oxidants are good for health because they remove free radicals in our body that damage our cells. Not only that, fruits and vegetables of a particular color category have a certain type of nutrition and hence contribute to certain healthy benefits. When you eat fruits and vegetables from a variety of colors, this ensures that you get all-round nutrition and benefits!

Hence, pick a selection of different colored fruits and vegetables that you’d like to have in your daily diet. I recommend picking fruits and vegetables you already like so it’s easier to stick to them on a regular basis. Some examples:

  1. White: Banana, Mushroom, Onion, White Corn, Sprout
  2. Yellow: Pineapple, Mango, Yellow Pear, Starfruit
  3. Orange: Orange, Papaya, Cantaloupe, Apricot, Carrot, Grapefruit, Pumpkin
  4. Red: Apple, Strawberry, Tomato, Watermelon
  5. Green: Guava, Avocado, Cucumber, Lettuce, Celery, Peas, Zucchini
  6. Purple/Blue: Blackberry, Eggplant, Prunes, Grapes, Blackcurrant

(More examples here: Color Wheel of Fruits and Vegetables)

My personal favorites that I can eat every day without growing tired of them are

  1. White: Bananas, Mushroom
  2. Yellow: Pineapple, Mango
  3. Orange: Orange, Pumpkin
  4. Red: Apple, Strawberry, Tomato
  5. Green: Avocado, Cucumber, Lettuce
  6. Purple/Blue: Grapes, Blackcurrant

Step 2: Learn your serving sizes (10 min)

A serving of fruit/vegetable is 80g. In layman terms, that’s…

Fruits

  • 1 banana
  • 6 strawberries
  • 2 plums
  • 15 grapes
  • 1 apple
  • 1 peach
  • 1/2 cup of fruit juice

Vegetables

  • 5 broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup of peas
  • 1/2 cup of pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup of eggplant
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable juice
  • 1 cup of raw romaine lettuce
  • 1 roma tomato
  • 3/4 cup tomato juice
  • 1 ear of corn
  • 4 slices of an onion

(* 1 cup = 250 ml or 8.8 oz. Examples above from About.com and Health Canada.)

Get familiar with serving sizes so you know exactly how much of your selected fruits/vegetables to consume for a day. Check out Health Canada | Vegetables and Fruit Serving Sizes for more examples of fruit and vegetable serving sizes.

Step 3: Consume at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables today! (All day long)

You’ve picked your favorites and learned about serving sizes — so, consume at least five servings of fruits and vegetables today! When getting your breakfast/lunch/dinner, try to incorporate at least one to two servings of fruit/vegetable in it.

Some tips to meet your quota:

  1. Mix them in a smoothie. This is the most effective method. You can easily take in 2–3 servings this way!
  2. Have a fruit with every meal. Having fruits for breakfast is a fantastic way to start off your day!
  3. Replace your snacks with fruits. Highly nutritious and low in calories! What more can you ask for? :)
  4. Have a salad or vegetable-based soup once a day. Salads are highly nutritious (of course, assuming the right ingredients and a healthy dressing) while soups can be very healthy and tasty at the same time. I’m personally making a point to eat at least one salad/soup a day in my healthy living plan!

Step 4: Continue with your fruits and vegetables intake for the rest of the challenge

Like with Day 1, drinking water and eating five servings of fruits and vegetables aren’t one-day affairs. If you want to be healthy and stay healthy, then these should be habits that you carry with you for life!

So, add “Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables” to your daily agenda of your 14-Day Healthy Living Plan. Follow-through with this task for the next 12 days! 😀

Next, Follow Your Plan for Day 2 (Take Pictures Too!)

What tasks have you set for Day 2 of your 14-Day Healthy Living Plan? Do them today!

Take pictures of your healthy meals — breakfast, lunch, dinner, and mid-day snacks if any — and share them in the comments section. 😀 After all, a picture tells a thousand words, and when you share photos of your healthy meals, it inspires others to eat healthily and gives them ideas on what healthy food they can have too!

Post your initial comment sharing your results for today’s challenge task, then add on throughout the day as you have your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and/or if you’re doing any workouts. Attach photos of your meals by clicking the image icon on the bottom left of every comment box. As you add on to your comment thread, be sure to click on the reply button directly below your original comment so that you reply to your own thread (as opposed to starting a new thread).

Share Your Results (and Photos!)

Share in the comments section!

  1. Your favorite fruits and vegetables and how you plan to meet your 5 fruits/vegetables a day
  2. Your progress with your healthy living plan today
  3. Pictures of your meals
  4. Pictures of your workout (if any)

Do check out the other participants’ comments too and share a word of encouragement or two. We’re all in this together, so let’s support each other as a group! :)

After you’re done, proceed to Day 3: Create Your Calorie List!

Image: Women running, Vegetables and Fruits

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