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How to get your 5 a day

We share our top tips that make getting the 5 recommended portions of fruit and vegetables a day hassle free.
We all know that fruit and vegetables are good for us but sometimes getting our 5 a day can seem like a real challenge especially if you have morning sickness to contend with. However, even if you weren't the healthiest eater before you became pregnant it's really important to try and bump up your daily intake of fruit and vegetables so that you and your baby get all the nutrients you need to be healthy. We share our top tips for including more fruit and vegetables in your diet...

1. It's all in the numbers

Thankfully getting more fruit and vegetables in your diet doesn't have to mean drastically changing the way you eat. Instead, it's all about modifying your favourites to include more of the good stuff. The easiest way to do this is to spread your intake throughout the day, trying to include at least one portion with breakfast, one with lunch, 2 with dinner and 1 as a snack. Try berries or a chopped up banana on your breakfast, bulking up your sandwich with salad or having a vegetable based soup for lunch, including two different types of vegetables with dinner and having a glass of juice, apple or some dried fruit as a snack.

2. Mix it up

It's important to include lots of different fruit and vegetables in your diet as each variety contains different combinations of vitamins and minerals, all of which your baby needs a little of to be healthy. Wherever possible try to aim for 5 different fruits and vegetables a day and rotate these throughout the week. By including lots of different coloured vegetables in your diet you'll not only be making sure that your baby is getting the nutrients he or she needs but it also helps to keep healthy food interesting.

3. Be adventurous

There's now more different types of fruit and vegetables available than ever before with weird and wonderful foods from across the globe available on our supermarket shelves. Why not start trying out a new fruit or vegetable each week? You'll discover new favourites you never new existed, expanding your 'culinary expertise' and getting a whole different range of nutrients. There's bound to be one or two things you're not keen on but you only learn by trying.

4. Get good at hiding

If you're not keen on fruit and vegetables there are lots of ways to incorporate them into meals so that the taste and texture are hidden. Even if you're big on the healthy stuff, hiding food is still an invaluable skill for Mums-to-be to learn as it comes in incredibly handy when your baby starts weaning! Soups, curries and casseroles are all good options for getting your vegetable count up stealthily. Tomato and cheese sauces (preferably made at home rather than out of a jar) are great ways to mask flavours that you're not too keen on and mashing and mixing different vegetable combinations with potato is usually a safe bet too. Smoothies are a great way to boost your fruit intake although you should try to limit these to one a day.

5. Know what counts

Fresh, frozen, dried and tinned fruits and vegetables all count towards your 5 a day and one portion is approximately 80g. This is the equivalent of roughly...
  • 1 medium sized fruit such as an apple, orange or banana.

  • 2 small fruits such as plums or satsumas

  • Half a grapefruit or avocado and a slice of melon or pineapple

  • 3 heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables

  • 3 heaped tablespoons of tinned fruit

  • 3 heaped tablespoons of beans and pulses (although these only count as 1 one your 5 no matter how many servings you have a day)

  • 1 heaped tablespoon of dried fruit

  • A desert bowl of raw salad vegetables

  • A handful of berries or grapes

  • 150ml glass of juice (this only counts as 1 portion no matter how much you drink in a day).
However, especially with vegetables it's really a case of the more you eat the better as fruit and veg are low in fat, full of nutrients and high in fibre, all of which keep you feeling and looking healthy.

6. Look at the labels

To really get the most from the fruit and vegetables you eat it's important to be aware of the following...
  • Look for tinned vegetables with no added salt or rinse well before eating

  • Go for tinned fruit in juice rather than syrup as this is a much healthier option

  • Try to choose dried fruit that hasn't been coated in sugar

  • Steam vegetables wherever possible as this helps them to retain more nutrients than boiling. Try to keep your veg crunchy rather than overcooking them and use any cooking water in soups, sauces and gravies for maximum nutritional benefit.
7. Take a supplement

Even if you are getting your 5 a day and then some it's a good idea to take an antenatal supplement to make sure that you have all bases covered. These aren't a replacement for eating fruit and vegetables but can help make sure that your baby is getting enough of all the vitamins and minerals he or she needs to develop healthily.

8. Enjoy

Pregnant or not it's important to enjoy the food you're eating so if you really don't fancy something then don't force yourself. There are so many different fruit and vegetables available and so many different ways of cooking them that your 5 a day options are almost endless.

Do you manage to get your 5 a day? Whether you have a delicious recipe to share or a question to ask why not visit the AskBaby forums for a chat.

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I'm currently 11 weeks and previously enjoyed different fruits like fresh mixed berries, Kiwis, quite a bit veg etc but just the thought of them is bringing me out in a cold sweat and instead I'm turning to bland fruit such as bananas and apples. Is this the norm?
by Kezza6777 5th Sep 2008, 9:00am