We all know we should enjoy a balanced diet, which includes eating five portions of fruit and veg a day. But counting those portions can be tricky. How many portions does a smoothie contain? Do frozen peas count? What about a tin of peaches? And when it comes to children, how much is a portion?
To answer the last question first, a portion of fruit and vegetable for a child depends on how big the child is. But there is a rule of thumb: a portion is as much as they can fit in the palm of their hand.
Once you know that, it can be easier to plan your child’s diet. Half a banana sliced up on their cereal and a fruit smoothie for breakfast is two portions already for a 3 – 6 year old, for example. A tablespoon of raisins or dried fruit for a mid-morning snack is another portion. Two tablespoons frozen peas with fish fingers and half a tinned peach and custard for pudding counts as another two portions. Already you’ve hit the five-a-day mark.
"It doesn't matter whether the fruit and vegetables come out of a tin or a freezer, they all count"
Fresh plums, dried apricots, even a pot of houmous (made from chickpeas) or a portion of baked beans (haricot beans) count. However, this is where it all gets a little bit more complicated…
Some foods, regardless of how much of them you eat, will only count as one serving of your five a day. These include: dried fruit, beans and pulses. So baked beans with every meal, or fruit juice, homemade or store-bought, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, together will only count as two of your five a day.
And, for some reason, potatoes don’t count as a portion. But despite these minor complications eating five-a-day is simple.