Many people don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables, and at a population level we seem to score under par. However, I’ve noticed an interesting seasonal trend with some of my clients over summer. One where if they tend to be prone to metabolic issues like weight gain and blood sugar control these tend to spike; and the common thread is fruit.
This got me to investigate, how much fruit should you eat? Is there such thing as consuming too much, and if so, what is it?
How much fruit according to the Australian Dietary Guidelines
Now back in the 2000s there was a relatively successful campaign called “Go for 2 and 5” which educated us on the Australian Dietary Guidelines. This tells us how much fruit and vegetable we should be consuming. The evidence seems to show that as a population we should be aiming for 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables per day.
We know that it was a successful campaign, as over the campaign period the awareness of these ads went from 20% to 70% of survey respondents (Department of Health & Ageing, 2007). Interesting though, while 94% of respondents were able to correctively give the fruit consumption guidelines of 2 or more serves per day, only 32% correctly gave the correct response of 5 or more serves of vegetables.
This got me thinking. Do we have a confirmation bias when it comes to fruit and vegetable consumption? By this I mean that we tend to hear the message that we should be eating more of the lovely sweet stuff. But ignore the message regarding boring old vegetables.
Perhaps we thought the message was go for 5 and 2 rather than 2 and 5?
So does excessive fruit consumption matter to our health?
At least if we look at the report published on the success of the Go for 2 and 5 campaign we see that people were already consuming the guidelines of two serves of fruit per day on average. While the average serves of vegetables scraped in at just over half of the guideline at 2.6 serves. Interestingly, while we already succeeded as a nation at consuming 2 serves of fruit 43% indicated that they planned on increasing their fruit consumption. Only 28% planned on increasing their vegetables.
Certainly this appears as though the message of eating more fruit was much more palatable to survey respondents.
So it doesn’t surprise me then when I see a dramatic spike in how much fruit some of my clients eat over summer. This amount for some was up to 5-10 serves per day. Now clinically we saw increases in 1-2 kg of weight and spikes in blood sugar levels, even though these clients were doing what they thought was best for their health. They have listened to part of the message (the part which is most palatable for us sweet tooths!) and simply didn’t consider that you might be able to have too much fruit!
In summer we tend to have an explosion of seasonal fruit to the market. Stone fruits, melons, and tropical fruits all tend to hit our grocery stores at a cheaper price. Interestingly, all of my clients who have drastically increased their consumption of fruits over summer had a stone fruit tree such as peaches and nectarines in their backyard.
So how much fruit should you eat per day?
Well that depends on what you may want to prevent health wise, but somewhere between 2-3 serves per day seems to be the “sweet spot”. If you want to know the science to this conclusion, and what fruits tend to work best for you, please read part two of this blog!
About the author
Warning – challenging content ahead!
Please only read on if you are prepared to have a serious conversation with yourself about your health choices over the next month; and if you are willing to not only set up a plan to survive Christmas, but to come out the other side feeling great about your choices!
As mentioned in a previous blog, we are currently facing a seasonal conundrum – our environment is against us! While we try to stay healthy, and perhaps even get in better shape and fitness to enjoy summer more, we are also being invited to more parties, with more food, and more drinks! And it’s hard to say no, as it is the ‘silly’ season after all, right?!
… but are we happy with the outcome this will lead to? How will we feel on the 2nd of January? Groggy, heavy, lethargic? Or energised and vibrant?
So, we have an interesting choice to make. We can go with the flow, and let circumstances and the environment dictate what happens to our health OR we can take a stand against the status quo!! In an earlier blog I shared iNform’s mission to help you push back against this environmental tide. We personally and professionally understand how tough it is to stand strong when everything and everyone around you is pushing another glass of wine or cheese platter your way! However, we would not be true to our calling, or doing our job; or doing you any favours for that matter, if we didn’t challenge you, and support you, to make this year different!
So lets make a plan to survive Christmas!
How will we do this? Well, I’ll share some practical tips to help you along, but of primary and most significant importance, is the choice you will need to make. Because at the end of the day, it will be you who will need to implement change; and that will be so much easier once you are convicted that it’s because you TRULY want to change. Your picture of yourself at the other side of Christmas in great health needs to be more important and real, than the desire for short term satisfaction that will come from over-eating… Are we ok so far?
I’d like to ask you some questions, which you should answer to yourself:
- How do you want to look and feel on the 2nd of January? (you may have some specific goals, such as an actual weight; scale of 1-10 of ‘wellbeing’; or an outfit you want to feel comfortable in.)
- How good will it actually feel if you achieve that goal, and why?
- What are behaviours that you feel put you at greatest risk of not achieving that goal? (such as eating too often/too much, etc)
- How good do those behaviours ACTUALLY feel when we do them? Have you experienced that sometimes the ‘idea’ of those behaviours is actually more powerful than the behaviour itself… for example, if drinking a lovely wine and eating cheese was actually SO good, you would be doing it all the time right? But you don’t, you can actually put those behaviours aside… see where this is heading?
- I hope this next question doesn’t sound patronising, as I certainly don’t mean it to be so…. Can you have a good time at a gathering without overdoing your particular behaviours in question?
- How much better will you feel when you get home from that party and you succeeded in not overconsuming??!
- Does that feeling of victory and control outweigh the short lived feeling had you eaten/drank more than you wanted… How nice to not have to regret anything, right?!
The process above is aimed to give some context to the behaviours you chose. It really comes down to a choice of ‘short term satisfaction vs long term pain’ OR ‘short term control for long term satisfaction’! Why would you choose the former?? Why do we tend to? Most often, because we just ‘go with the flow’… we don’t stop and take stock of the consequences, as we would with other behaviours. So if you just read through the numbered questions above without giving them some real thought, can I encourage you to go back and spend some time on them?
The process won’t necessarily be easy, but it will be worth it in so many ways! And as the ‘Quit Smoking’ ads encourage us to do: if you fail the first time, try again! you will get closer every time you do. Very importantly, don’t be harsh on yourself – these behaviours in question have been in place (in one way or another) for a very long time, in addition, the environment IS against you, so you have these two battles on your hands. But you have us by your side, every step of the way! If you would like our support through this process, can I encourage you to take advantage of our “Line in the Sand Campaign“?
As I’ve been writing this I’ve realised that this will be a short series of about three blogs, so part 2 and 3 will be out shortly!
Picture this… Its January 1st. This year you want to lose weight! In fact you have
already started to cut out the cake at lunch, park your car further away from work and have joined the local yoga class. You have been weighing yourself daily and watching the numbers on the scales decrease. You have started off strong…
But then the weekend hits, you have that important birthday and you become discouraged. This weight loss thing doesn’t seem so fun anymore and you may have just convinced yourself you just don’t have self discipline! You have already resigned to the fact that any further weight loss is in fact impossible and you might was well start eating the cake at lunch time again. You begin to put that weight back on and focus your energy on something else. This vicious cycle continues again and again. Does this sound familiar?
How do we break out of the vicious cycle?
Goal setting helps quantify and clarify the ‘how,’ the ‘what,’ the ‘why’ and the ‘when’ behind these statements. The aptly named S.M.A.R.T goals provide you with direction, structure, accountability and give you a deadline to meet. The SMART criteria is as follows:
- Identifies exactly what you want to achieve.
- Studies have shown that task specific and challenging goals lead to higher performance than ‘do your best’ or no goals at all.
- Feedback or reward has been shown to increase task performance
- Places a measurable value on the task for example; centimetres; dress; minutes;
- It allows for re-evaluation to objectively review a goal
- Do you really believe you can do this?
- Your goal must challenge you enough to be outside of your comfort zone, however should be within your reach.
- Are both the goal and the timeframe you set to complete the goal realistic?
- Going from sedentary to running marathon distances may be realistic but doing this in 2 weeks may not be.
- Set a time frame to achieve this goal by. When do you plan to achieve this goal?
- Not only does writing down your goals increase success rate, but it has also been shown to improve happiness, satisfaction levels and also creates a sense of achievement.
A goal without a date is just a vision
- Try and limit the amount of goals you have at one time and prioritise them
- Follow the SMART goals principle and write them down
- Re -evaluate: goals are there to be adaptable and flexible to your current situations and change, a review of your goals with change of circumstances or a period of time is essential to the goal setting process.
- Share them with the people who will help you achieve them; choose wisely!
If you currently do not have any clear goals written down, I encourage you to set some time aside or book in for a review with your trainer to nut out what you want to achieve. Goal setting is something which most of us recognise the importance of to achieve success, so lets be SMART about it!
In our previous blog we looked at the evidence supporting the Paleo diet. While promising, these few studies were very short in duration, had relatively small numbers, and were targeted mainly at people with metabolic conditions.
What is still unknown though is the long term ramifications of eating the Paleo way as there are no studies that go beyond 3 months.
This makes it hard for us to predict.
However, there are many studies that look at the effects of dairy and grains on our health, the very foods that are excluded with the Paleo Diet. We only need to go to the NHMRC report on the Australian Dietary Guidelines to see the evidence.1 (more…)
In our last iNform Voice blog we explained the main differences between a Paleo diet and our current Australian Guidelines. However, do we know if this way of eating is good for us or is it just another fly-by diet?
Is there actually any research to this diet and if so what does it tell us?
What I found surprised me in many ways. (more…)