Friday, 17 March 2017

10 a day. What have I learned?

First of all, I've learned never to do another stupid challenge like this!  Seriously.  Anyway, I put my body through this so you can see what it's like kind readers!


10 a day forces variety.  It had been months since I'd last had a citrus fruit which wasn't in gin; ages since I last ate cauliflower.  Doing something that mixes up your diet is no bad thing.

In general cravings for unhealthy foods, especially sweet foods went down but I didn't cut them out completely.

Once I got through the lull of feeling tired and bloated and came out the other side, I felt great and full of energy.


Frankly I ate too much.  800g of fruit and vegetables a day is too much for me if I'm including anything else in my diet.  I was genuinely eating when I wasn't hungry which isn't healthy for anyone and despite me eating a healthier diet than normal, the sheer quantity meant I didn't lose an ounce of weight, my weight at the end of the 10 days was exactly what it had been at the start.

On some days I found my protein intake went down which impacted on my exercise recovery and I found sometimes meals were less satisfying so I snacked more particularly on the day when I got out of kilter and ate mostly fruit.

I found my body took some time to adjust and I felt generally out of sorts from about days 2-7.  My skin got rough, I felt bloated.  By days 8, 9 and 10, I felt great though.

What will I take from it?

I'm keen to keep the variety but cut the quantity.  I think having 10 a day of 50g each would still be a pretty good result.

I found most meals had >3/4 of my plate as fruits and vegetables.  I'm going to at least try for 1/2 going forward.  I'm also intending to have more meals without meat.

It occurred to me towards the end of my challenge that in all likelihood, the research would be based on self reported diets.  How many people weigh out the vegetables they are having for every meal?  Not very many I would guess and that was one of the aspects which got boring very quickly.

Another thing which bothered me is that the guidance from government doesn't vary by gender or weight. What about men who have an additional calorie requirement of 25% a day?  Should portion size not vary by calorie requirement and gender?  To me that would make sense to keep up the variety but reduce if you're eating fewer calories and think about what proportion of a meal fruit and vegetables should take up.  I suppose that is the intent of the eatwell guide but that is only aimed to get to 5 a day not 10.

Will I completely keep this up?  No but more than 5 a day is actually quite easy.  I frequently made it to that point after lunch.  People failing to eat 5 a day really need to have a look at what they're doing as it's genuinely not as hard as they may think.

My other finding was this cost a lot of cash.  I know that counters all the official guidance that eating fruits and vegetables doesn't have to be expensive but when you're trying to fit in 10 different ones a day and it's the time of year when a lot of our fresh fruits and vegetables have to be imported; yes, it is expensive.  But then you need to look at the bigger picture.  It's far more expensive to suffer illness at a younger age or have to leave work due to ill health.  Preprepared foods are also still expensive because although they will probably be able to buy the ingredients at a cheaper price than a person in the street, they're still adding a lot of processing which takes people, power etc.  If you make things yourself, from scratch, you can often get close to preprepared food prices and you control what goes into it.  Vegetarian food is another way to keep the cost of this down as you take out the cost of the meat.

Top tips to up your fruit and vegetable intake

Make fruit and vegetables at least half of each meal
Have the odd meal without meat
Keep fruits and vegetables around which are easy to snack on like apples, carrot sticks, raisins, grapes and berries.
Add pulses to meals (even meat containing meals) to get a "hidden" extra vegetable
Try to get some fruit or vegetables into your breakfast then it's easy to get loads in over a day
Have berries and cream for a pudding instead of a cake, it still feels special and "naughty".

I've you've not read my daily updates, please have a look:

I hope you will join me in my journey, I will keep you posted by the day on how it's going and put links below so you can read more about my experience:

Day 1 of 10 a day
Day 2 of 10 a day
Day 3 of 10 a day
Day 4 of 10 a day
Day 5 of 10 a day
Day 6 of 10 a day
Day 7 of 10 a day
Day 8 of 10 a day
Day 9 of 10 a day
Day 10 of 10 a day

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