In Brief

Healthy eating tips for home: how to get your five a day during the lockdown

Buying frozen or canned fruit and veg is a nutritious alternative for the food shopping list

Keeping healthy during the lockdown does not just mean exercising your body and mind… it’s also about the food you eat.

Online deliveries and shop shelves may be sparse for some fresh fruits and vegetables, but there are other ways to plan meals and snacks which are both delicious and nutritious. 

The NHS recommends at least five portions (a total of 400g) of a variety of fruit and vegetables each day. 

Five a day may seem a struggle without fresh ingredients, but there are alternatives such as frozen or canned products.

Here we look at tips on how to get your five a day during the lockdown...  

What counts in your five a day?

One portion is: 

  • 80g of fresh, canned or frozen fruit and vegetables 
  • 30g of dried fruit, which should be eaten at mealtimes, not as a between-meal snack, to reduce the risk of tooth decay
  • 150ml of fruit juice, vegetable juice or smoothie (only once in a day)
  • Unsweetened 100% fruit juice, vegetable juice and smoothies only ever count as a maximum of one portion
  • 80g of beans and pulses - however, these only count once as part of your five a day, no matter how many you eat
  • Sweet potatoes, parsnips, swedes and turnips do count. But while normal potatoes, yams, cassava and plantain are vegetables, they don’t count towards your five a day 

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Adds cans and tins to your shopping list 

The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) says canned vegetables can be just as healthy as fresh and should be worth considering for your shopping list. 

“Canned peas, carrots and spinach are all nutritious and versatile, and why not try something new like heart of palm or artichokes if these are more readily available?” the BNF said.

“Add canned vegetables straight into curries and stews to bulk out your meals. Canned pulses like kidney beans or chickpeas are also a quick, nutritious addition to things like pasta sauces or salads.”

The NHS adds that if you opt for tinned or canned fruit and vegetables, then choose the ones in natural juice or water, with no added sugar or salt.

‘Eat your five a day’

On Instagram registered dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine published her tips on how to stay healthy and productive during isolation. 

She advises: “Eat colour: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.. eat your 5 a day! Tinned & frozen count too (they contain more nutrients such as vit C than their fresh varieties too!). Try if you can though to buy fruit tinned in juice as opposed to syrup.”⁣⁣⁣

Get the kids involved 

Dietitian Azmina Govindji urges parents to include their children when planning the five a day at home. 

“Familiarise young children with the colours and shapes of fruits and vegetables as early as possible,” she said. “If your children aren’t keen, canned vegetables, such as sweetcorn, lentils and peas, can be a good place to start. 

“Try not to reinforce the idea that vegetables are unpleasant and always need to be hidden in foods. Instead, have fun together by trying lots of different fruit and veg, and finding what your children like.”

Snacks: plan ahead 

Hide away the chocolate and crisps and prepare some delicious snacks in advance...

  • Fill a fruit bowl and keep in the living room 
  • Fresh fruit can be washed and put in the fridge ready to eat 
  • Keep snack-ready vegetables such as sliced carrots or celery in the fridge

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Five a day meal tips for families 

Breakfast 
  • Add sliced fruit such as bananas, strawberries or sultanas to cereal, porridge or lower fat natural yoghurt  
  • Add grilled mushrooms or grilled tomatoes to scrambled eggs  
  • A handful of berries or a chopped banana 
  • A glass (150ml) of unsweetened 100% fruit juice, vegetable juice or smoothie
Lunch 
  • Add fruit and veg to favourite meals: chopped carrots in bolognese sauce; chopped red peppers on pasta; peas in mashed potato; tomatoes in an omelette; mushrooms in a stir-fry 
  • Include salad items in sandwiches 
  • Eat carrot sticks, celery sticks or cherry tomatoes with dips such as salsa or lower fat cheese spread 
  • Eat satsumas or seedless grapes for dessert  
  • Dried fruit - have a handful of sultanas or a few dried apricots as a dessert
Dinner
  • Have two different vegetables on the dinner table 
  • Add fruit and veg to favourite meals 
  • Vegetables in dishes such as stews and casseroles also count, but avoid adding extra fat, salt and sugar, and use lean cuts of meat 
  • Salad or vegetable side dish with the main meal 
  • Frozen fruit and veg as a side dish  
  • Canned vegetables such as sweetcorn or pineapple chunks on a pizza

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