10 A Day! Could You Do It?

10 per day Fruit Vegetables

So, “they” who tell us what to do, now say we should be eating 10 per day. There’s been a lot of shouting by people saying it’s a lot! And I agree, to a point, but I have a little theory too.

This arbitrary figure set for a portion is across the board. Whether you’re a 3′ typist, or a 6’6″ builder and body builder, it simply makes sense to me that the figure can’t be the same for both.

So, I figure that must be based on averages. An average woman has 2000 calories/day and an average man should have more, about 3000/day I think …. well, if I ate 2000 calories/day I’d be as round as I am tall – because, well, I’m not very tall!

So, I figure that the way for ME to ever achieve close to the 10-a-day (which won’t happen will it, let’s be realistic – scroll through any of my food photos and you get a wall of beige) would be the HALVE that and have 10 HALF portions/day.

That seems “fair” to me. If I eat half the “norm”, half the average, then I should eat half of a “portion” too!

Step 1: Work Out What You Already Eat


So, the first step is that I have to write down a list of vegetables/fruits etc and instantly dismiss anything I will never eat. Then split the list into two: things I DO eat + things I COULD eat. e.g. I rarely drink fruit juice, so maybe one quick fix is to start drinking that. There is one I like, I had it at Christmas, it’s a pineapple and coconut juice.

Mushrooms would be a big no no for me. While I’d eat a chicken & mushroom pie at a push, I’d not actively buy and cook mushrooms for a recipe.

I decided to look up, from an “official source” what’s what – and jot down the food I eat, like, could eat – and then stare at that list until some enthusiasm grabs me.  I used the NHS 5 a Day Portion Guide (PDF).

You Can’t Try to Eat What You Don’t Like

That’s simple human behaviour. Nobody will eat food they don’t eat/don’t like just because somebody says it’s “good for them” and they should. 🙂  Don’t try to force food you simply don’t like, or that isn’t in your regular lifestyle, into the 10 per day…. that just won’t work.

I figure there are three categories: vegetables, fruit, other sources (such as dried fruit and fruit juices and onions etc… stuff that’s not “food” in the big scheme of things).

But you can’t just eat what you like from the list as some items only count as one portion, no matter how much you eat.  e.g. 9 heaped tablespoons of a 3-bean salad would count as one portion, not three.

Portion Sizes of Food I am Prepared to Eat: 

These are the official portion sizes, so I’d need to aim for half this every day:

  • Carrots/Swede/Peas/Sweetcorn, 3 heaped tablespoons;
    Baked Beans/Red Kidney Beans/Butter Beans/Chickpeas, 3 heaped tablespoons;
    Cauliflower/Broccoli, 8 florets;
    Green Beans/Cabbage, 4 heaped tablespoons.
    Tinned Carrots, 3 heaped tablespoons;
    Brussels sprouts, 6-8 sprouts;
    Tinned Plum Tomatoes, 2 whole; Cherry Tomatoes, 7; Salad Tomatoes, 1;
    Parsnips, 1 medium;
    Fresh Peppers, ½.
  • Banana, 1 medium;
    Tinned Pineapple, 2 rings or 12 chunks;
    Tinned pears, 2 halves;
    Rhubarb, 2 heaped tablespoons; Tinned Rhubarb, 5 chunks.
  • Onions, ½;
    Raisins/sultanas, 1 heaped tablespoon;
    Fruit Juice, 150ml;
    Tomato puree, 1 heaped tablespoon.

So that’s my starter list – I’ll tweak it as I remember food I eat/like and as I discover new portion values.

The next stage will be to try to find some low volume/high portion foods… but that much is already more food than I’d usually eat each day – so, by trying to aim for half of each of 10 it should help 🙂

Eat More Vegetables Than Fruits

Under the rules to juggle, you should eat more vegetables than fruit. Within the 5 a day regime the balance was to try to eat 3 vegetables/day and 2 fruit portions.  Under the 10 per day regime this is doubled to 6 veggies and 4 fruits.

Nourishment Not Punishment

This is a saying we used to have – “nourishment, not punishment” – what it means is that you shouldn’t see things as a punishment, it shouldn’t be nasty – simply be aware and see where/if you can fit in “a little extra” here and there.  Maybe having a one-slice tomato sandwich as a snack instead of two pieces of toast.  Maybe, given enough time, even I can find some solutions that work for me…. the Reluctant One.

Work in Progress

I’m sure this will forever be a work in progress…. it might take a year or two to change my mindset – we’ll have to see.

Who knows…. I might discover something easy to make/eat that I actually like and that counts as a five a day item … although I suspect there aren’t many pies on the list.