Monday, 8 May 2017

Mission Possible 800 g Veggies Per Day


Have you heard about a research made by scientists from Imperial College London that suggests we should be eating even more veggies and fruits that just 500 g per day? Here is how the Guardian wrote about the subject. According to this study proper amount would be 800 g per day to get the maximal benefits. First I learned about this research on Finnish television program Prisma Studio where they talked about the study and tested eating 800 g veggies per day. As a vegetarian my attitude towards veggies and plant based products is positive. About 90 % of the food I eat is plant based but of course not all that food is plain veggies. I eat a lot of grains, meat substitutes, tofu and beans. This is why I wanted to examine how much veggies I am already eating and give a try how difficult it is to achieve that 800 g from veggies and fruits. So decided to take 800 g per day challenge for the first week of May. First I had to begin with the amount, how much is actually 800 g? I decided to weight my veggies to have a better clue to what kind of amount we are talking about.  I wrote down the amounts and some of my thoughts during the week. It is easy to estimate the daily amount a bit over and when I thought about my daily meals I found out that I could definitely eat more. 
Note that I am only listing the meals that include veggies, so this was not all that I have been eating!


For example my breakfast is usually oatmeal porridge, soy yogurt, coffee with oat milk and juice. All is plant based but there is no veggies or fruits. To get this fixed I replaced the yogurt with 100 g berries and added 100 g carrot bites.  This was easy and delicious way to get 200 g of the daily 800g. 

1.5. Day One


800 g veggies does not have to be raw but on the first day I chose to make a salad. I had a plan to eat a green salad as a lunch and then something cooked as a dinner. Usually I eat just one main meal per day and it is some grain or potato with sauce or veggie patties. I do add veggies to sauces, casseroles or what ever it is that I am preparing but to achieve 800 g the amounts would be too small. Also I would have to eat for example potato and vegetarian sausage sauce quite a pile to get enough veggies. Simple food plate model that advises how you should compose the plate with potato/ grain, sauce and salad is excellent. Here are some inspirational food pyramids from all over the world listed by HUFFPOST. Here you can see the Finnish dietary guidelines.

On the first day I sort of divided the food plate eating my salad first and the other side of the plate (tofu) with veggies later. When I weighted my salad I saw that I am doing a bit over. I thought 800 g is a massive amount when actually it is not. Green salad does not weight much, so if you choose to eat just that for your 800 g you will have a tough time. I combined grapes, paprika, avocado, cucumber and tomatoes in my salad and eating little bit of this and that made it easy to achieve 575 g.  I felt that eating plain green veggies made me quite energetic and I didn´t feel too full after the lunch. Still I decided it would make sense to divide the veggies to every meal and snack instead of eating all at once in a salad.


In the evening I fried some tofu and courgette slices. I also ate chopped cauliflower for snack.

960 g was the amount of veggies for the first day because I was maybe too eager to achieve the 800 g.  I was quite hungry between the meals because veggies seem to melt quite quickly and I was not prepared to that. It would have been a good idea to have some healthy snack in the fridge for these kind of occasions when you are hungry but preparing food takes time. Even on the first day it was clear that when I plan the meals it is easy to achieve the daily goal.


2.5. Day Two


On the second day I ate a snack between breakfast and lunch. I mashed an avocado to a rye bread and added some tomatoes and cauliflower chops. 


Spicy chickpeas, spelt, grated carrot, tomato, cucumber and onion. As an evening snack I ate fruits. 

On second day I achieved 856 g veggies and fruit and managed to divide the veggies to different snacks and meals instead of over eating on one meal. I noticed that is is easy to add veggies when you prepare the food yourself. Sometimes when I am hungry I might choose a ready meal from store. Most of those meals have quite a little veggies and are packed with potato or pasta. What comes to snacks it is easy to chop cauliflower, carrot or turnip and eat one or two pieces every now and then. In my childhood these were called veggie or root bites and they were common in my home and school lunch. I wonder where do these kind of good habits vanish when you grow older. 

3.5. Day Three


 I had spicy chickpeas and spelt left in the fridge so I mixed them and ate with a salad.


Evening snack was rye bread with sauerkraut, paprika, turnip & cauliflower chops. 

I was surprised when I counted 954 g for this day. It seems that by eating various veggies it is easier to collect a big amount. My evening snack turnip and cauliflower chops weighted 226 g so that was an easy extra for the day. Best thing is that by eating different veggies you get the best benefits as you can see from the study I linked. I don´t know if it is just a coincidence but when I started eating more veggies I have become more productive and it feels like my brain is working better. I have a need to go outdoors and move all the time. Even though weighting and taking pictures from every veggie meal takes time I have managed to do it. All in all I have got lots of tasks done and I have got more plans for the following weeks than I usually do.

4.5. Day Four


Lunch salad with warm fried courgette slices. Below rye bread pizzettas. I also ate some fruit. I achieved 803 g veggies that day.


On fourth day I had more ideas on what to cook and eat to get more vegetables to my diet. At the same time I felt that it took maybe a bit more time to prepare the food. I have a habit of eating just one main meal and lots of snacks. With my veggie challenge on I had to keep proper mealtimes and cook real food. Keeping lunchtimes is actually a very good thing because one of my bad habits is eating chocolate, daily. Now when I have practiced mealtimes I have noticed that eating real, healthy food regularly has kept me away from candy department more often. I don´t have as much cravings for candy as I usually have. HEUREKA! You might add :D Stomach full of real food takes your mind off from thinking what should I want next. I do have to say that taking this 800 g veggies challenge my intention was not to lose weight and I don´t own a scale. I was curious and my point was purely to test how it is to eat this much veggies every day and if is it possible in real life.

5.5. Day Five


This lunch is a good example on how to combine ready meal and home made salad. Vegetarian tortilla is from store and makes a basic light green salad more like a lunch.


Dinner veggies with cheese and tortellini. 

On fifth day I ate 851 g veggies and it came quite without any special effort. It began to feel like a routine and I had so much energy that I thought about keeping the habit of eating more veggies. At least I haven´t heard about any negative effects that veggies could have. More research is needed about exactly how much veggies we should be eating in the future. In the meanwhile this could be a good diet for me. After the challenge week I won´t be using a scale to weight my veggies. Instead of that I am using the experience I got and try to remember the right amounts and routines to add veggies to every meal.

6.5. Day Six


On sixth day I prepared a salad and ate with the tortellini leftovers. I also made same kind of rye bread pizzettas as on the day four.  I achieved 834 g veggies. 

Shopping real food and good ingredients is the key for success. I tend to buy too little veggies compared to other cooking ingredients. On challenge week I decided to buy bigger amounts of veggies so that it was easy to prepare food and take a snack from the fridge. Instead of one package of cherry tomatoes I bought two, instead of one small courgette I bought 3. I also took two different salads, other veggies and fruit. This meant a heavy shopping bag on a way home but it has felt inspiring to open the fridge and see all beautiful and colorful veggies.

7.5. Day Seven


Spinach courgette pancakes and spelt salad.

On the final seventh day I ate 889 g veggies. The first week with new routine was a learning process. I needed to see how much is actually 800 g instead of just guessing if I eat a proper amount. I learned that even though my diet is 90% plant based it could include more fruits and veggies. During the week I ate green veggies more than usual and got used to that. In the future I would like to keep eating more salad and lunch salad could be a good way. To eat this much every day needs a plan and rhythm. I noticed that good old mealtimes are great invention that I want to follow more precisely in the future. I am also considering to prepare snacks and salad to the fridge for those moments when I am super hungry and feel like going for old habits of skipping meals and eating candy.

Have you tested how much veggies you eat? Are you as keen as I am to learn about new studies and improve your life?

Have a good start for the new week!

Sannu

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