A Healthy Recipe for Success – Get Up, and Eat Vegetables

Have you stopped going to the gym already? Relieved dry January is over and about to celebrate this weekend? Well don’t worry, here's a healthy recipe for small changes everyone can make now.

Get Up

Sitting for long periods of time, even if you exercise regularly, could increase your chance of dying from any cause. This was from a meta-analysis* (study of studies) published this month . Unless you are highly active, which is the equivalent of at least 5 hours a week of jogging or running or 7 hours a week of walking we all need to get up and stand up more. And a large European study# (of more than 300,000 people) published this month showed that being inactive contributed to twice as many deaths as being obese. Their advice was doing as little as 20 minutes of exercise a day (a little more than 2 hours a week), benefits our health. It doesn’t have to be in one go if you struggle to fit it in, why not split it in to two 10 minute walking breaks during the day.

Vegetables & Fruit

Eating more fruit and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of dying, particularly from cardiovascular diseases (heart attack, stroke)^. This study published last year in the British Medical Journal showed that the average reduction in risk was 5% for each additional serving a day. There seems debate as to how many portions a day is optimum but fruit and vegetable consumption per person is falling. I focus on vegetables as people seem to struggle more to eat these. I encourage clients to fill their main meal plate with 3 different vegetables taking up half of their plate. Or have a side salad or vegetable soup as part of their meal. What I find is that many people just have one vegetable accompaniment (aside from potatoes which don’t count) and that may not be 80g in weight which is the portion size for one of your 5-a-day.

Image of chicken and vegetable stir fry


Here are a list of small steps that can help you with these 2 small changes:

1. Have a 2 minute stand and stretch after sitting down for 20 minutes.
2. Stand up to make work phone calls, you’ll feel more assertive.
3. Stock up your freezer so you always have some ready-to-cook vegetables: quick cook vegetables are frozen sweetcorn, peas, green beans, spinach, broad beans.
4. Add an extra portion of vegetables to a stir-fry, stew or curry: carrots, mushrooms, chickpeas, spinach.
5. Have a meat-free Monday.
6. Make a vegetable soup – leek & potato, tomato soup (contact me for a healthy recipe)
7. Add a vegetable to a homemade fruit smoothie (avocado, spinach – I have a healthy recipe)
8. Take a break, have a 10 minute walk around the block for fresh air and exercise.
9. Walk the kids to school, to the postbox, the pharmacy or the corner shop.

If you want help with a healthy recipe or to implement these and other changes for a healthier fitter you please get in touch.


* Ann Intern Med. 2015 Jan 20;162(2):123-32. Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Biswas et al.

# American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2015 Jan 14 (epub ahead of print) 14.100065 Physical activity and all-cause mortality across levels of overall and abdominal adiposity in European men and women: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Study (EPIC). Ekelund et al. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2015/01/14/ajcn.114.100065.full.pdf+html

^ BMJ 2014; 349:g4490. Fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Wang et al. http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g4490

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