The fantastic five: Some food for thought - GulfToday

The fantastic five: Some food for thought

Birjees Hussain

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

Healthy diet

The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Dieticians claim that, in order to stay healthy we must have at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. This is aside from the fact that very few people actually eat five times a day anyway. Rather than sitting down to a full breakfast and two proper meals (lunch and dinner) nutritionists have always said that rather our eating habits should be more like toddlers who eat a bite here and there and then run around and then come back and eat another small bite here and there. What toddlers are unwittingly doing is eating and letting what little they’ve eaten burn away in the subsequent running around that they are engaged in.

We adults can’t actually do that. We can’t just eat a tiny amount and then go running around and then come back and eat something equally tiny in amount. We have lives, we have important things to do in our lives like earning a living, housework, shopping and, in many cases, having to look after those little people who eat tiny amounts and then go running around and then come back for more.

I suppose the next best alternative would be to curb your appetite at each meal so that you are unwittingly eating less than you normally would. Some say drink a tall glass of water shortly before each meal so that you are already a bit full. Then when you come to eat, chew each morsel slowly (for around 20 seconds per mouthful). It’s true that you may end up taking longer to eat a meal but it may also be likely that half way through it you might feel full and stop eating. Apparently this is the Japanese method of eating and they swear that eating in this manner actually helps your digestive system because most of the digestion has been done in your mouth. Surely it’s better to eat like that than to eat like it’s your last meal and then end up with severe indigestion?

So where do the five fruit and vegetables come in? Well clearly one can mix and match. One can eat a portion of vegetables with one’s protein at each meal, and nutritionists suggest that the size of your meat portion should ideally be the size of your palm, the rest being vegetables. This should ideally be at both lunch and dinner and that’s your two portions of vegetables. But then you’re probably wondering what happened to the other three portions. Well nutritionists suggest apples and other vegetables as snacks throughout the day. Well, not throughout the day because even fruits have calories that need to be taken into consideration. So everything in moderation.

Now some nutritionists also suggest eating nuts every single day. A few almonds, a few walnuts and a few pistachios, all of which are good for you. Some suggest eating a tiny handful of a mixture of raw nuts straight after a meal to curb that teeny tiny bit of hunger you might still have left since you were so diligent when eating your meal. And raw nuts is the key. For some reason roasted almonds do not have the same benefits as in their raw state.

But with all this nutritional advice, something bizarre and scary has arisen. If you live in one country and would like to eat your five fruit and veggies but cannot find your usual staples, you might be tempted to try something different that you’ve never eaten before, even if it’s been imported from another country. I would urge caution when making a beeline for some exotic fruits that look enticing and tasty. It seems that, at least in the UK, unusual allergic reactions are being triggered in consumers because they want to stick to their five fruit and vegetables a day but are having a hard time finding anything to keep their taste buds excited about eating them.

In the past we ate smaller amounts of fruits and vegetables. Perhaps just an apple or a banana a day and that was it. Everything else was food cooked at home. But then this five a day diet recommendation came along and people started consuming them like they were medicine. Unfortunately the concentration of any allergens in these fruits began to accumulate in some people thereby causing them to have an allergic reaction.

So everything in moderation and please do your research before you do start the 5 a day recommendation. It may not be all that it’s cracked up to be.

Related articles