Many people have heard of the ‘5 and 2’ diet, made popular by British doctor and journalist Michael Mosley but few remember the original ‘5 and 2’; 5 veg and 2 fruit each day. Technically it’s ‘between 5 and 6 veg depending on your age and gender and 2 fruit’ but that’s nowhere near as catchy! 

 Research conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2015 found that only 50% of adults and 68% of children ate sufficient serves of fruit and of even greater concern, only 7% of adults and 5% of children ate a sufficient amount of vegetables! Broadly there are two major concerns with this pattern, the first is the reduced intake of important vitamins, minerals and fibre, and the second is the consumption of ultra-processed foods in place of low-processed, fresh ingredients.  

 Distilling the issue into two broad categories may make the problem easier to understand but it risks trivialising a serious health concern. Insufficient fruit and veg intake is associated with an increased risk of obesity, gut health issues, heart disease, cancer and a range of other health issues. 

 The solution seems easy, EAT MORE FRUIT AND VEG; however, the statistics above clearly demonstrate it may not be as simple as we think. Issues of convenience, marketing, availability and more, all conspire to reduce our intake. So, what can we do? Here are five hacks to get you eating more fruit and veg, and get you closer to the other ‘5 and 2’. 

 Add fresh produce to foods you already enjoy. Add some fruit to your morning cereal. Grate some carrot on that beef sandwich. Slice some tomato onto that ham and cheese toastie. How about replacing your wraps with lettuce leaves? Do you enjoy pasta? How about replacing half your spaghetti with vegetable noodles such as strips of zucchini. 

  1. Snack replacement.  Walk straight down the biscuit isle without stopping and head for the fridges, find the dips and choose a couple. Time to sub out those ‘Shapes’ for some cut up celery or carrot and dip. 
  2. Get creative with your dessert. Roasting seasonal fruits brings out their sweetness, add a dollop of Greek yoghurt and you have a brilliant dessert still capable of satisfying a sweet tooth. 
  3. Make it fun, make it interesting. Try experimenting with your fruit and veg. For example, how about some home-made sweet potato or kale chips, seasonal fruits in your salads or make a soup. 
  4. Always keep some fruit and veg on hand. By having an apple, carrot, pear or banana on your desk or kitchen bench you’re more likely to eat it and less likely to head for the packet of Tim Tams in the cupboard.