5 A Day Recommendations For Veggies; Why You May Not Be Getting Yours

Hands holding basket of mixed veggie produce from farm

Is meeting 5 a day for vegetables difficult? You are not alone!!
We all know that vegetables are loaded with fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and are good for us. Yet, only 5% of Australians are meeting the recommended 5 serves of vegetables a day. So, why is it so difficult for most of us to meet the recommendations?
A population study carried out in the Greater Bendigo region examined barriers to adequate vegetable consumption and found four main barriers :

  • Lack of time
  • That the recommended 5 serves are perceived as unachievable
  • That vegetables are not tasty and other wide variety of tasty foods are available &
  • The high cost and limited availability of fresh vegetables.

Overall, lack of time was found to be the most important barrier for all ages. For men, work was the main reason for lack of time and for women it was work and caring for young children. Storing, preparing and cooking vegetables was not seen as easy. Vegetables require too much preparation time and it was hard to take vegetables to work to eat at lunch. Men said their vegetable consumption was impacted because they did not get enough time to eat during the day. Women found that work hours and child-care responsibilities did not leave enough time to prepare and cook vegetables at dinner.

Perception that guidelines are unachievable was the second most important factor.
Females particularly, explained that they were just not hungry enough to eat 5 serves of
vegetables. Older adults too, expressed the same view and said that they consumed smaller meals. Many older adults relied on meal delivery service and had no control over the vegetable served. For most adults, dinner was the only meal at which vegetables were most often eaten and 5 serves was too much to consume at one meal.

Food and taste preferences was another factor for low consumption of vegetables.
Processed foods were preferred as they were more convenient and easier to handle and store as compared to fresh vegetables. Some males did not like to eat vegetables because they are not tasty, while some said that other much tastier foods were available.
Cost of vegetables was found to be a barrier for persons living in rural areas. Young adults said that locally grown produce was important to them and often locally grown fresh vegetables were not available.

Understanding which of these factors may be impacting your vegetable intake will help you find ways of increasing your vegetable
intake and improve your health!!

An Accredited Practicing Dietitian or APD can help you with more education around your
nutritional needs and can come up with an easy plan for you to meet your daily
recommendations. Proper nutrition is the key to a healthy life.

References
AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF HEALTH AND WELFARE. 2018. AUSTRALIA'S HEALTH 2018 [ONLINE]. CANBERRA:AIHW. AVAILABLE:HTTPS://WWW.AIHW.GOV.AU/REPORTS/AUSTRALIAS-HEALTH/AUSTRALIAS HEALTH-2018/CONTENTS [ACCESSED JUNE 20,2020].

LIVINGSTONE, K. M., BURTON, M., BROWN, A. K. & MCNAUGHTON, S. A. 2020. EXPLORING BARRIERS TO MEETING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FRUIT AND VEGETABLE INTAKE AMONG ADULTS IN REGIONAL AREAS: A MIXED-METHODS ANALYSIS OF VARIATIONS ACROSS SOCIO-DEMOGRAPHICS. APPETITE, 153, 104750.

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Our Director
Purva Gulyani

Purva Gulyani – an Accredited Practising Dietitian and lifelong member of the Indian Dietitian Association. Currently pursuing PhD at Latrobe University. Purva brings over 16+ years of clinical dietitian experience to the table.

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