New study reveals more than 90% of Australians don’t eat the recommended five serves of vegetables a day.

“Eat your veggies!” It’s a phrase you’ve probably heard a lot throughout your life, but new research from The Heart Foundation suggests Australian adults are still not eating enough of them.

Australia’s leading killer remains at large – heart disease

Having a healthy diet is one of the key factors to avoid getting heart disease. It’s safe to say most Australians know fruit and vegetables should be at the top of the list of foods that are good for your heart. In fact, 45 per cent (%) of Aussies are aware of the long-term benefits of eating fruit and veggies. However, the average adult gets 2.4 serves of veggies per day, while just over half eats the advised two serves of fruit. Discretionary foods with little nutritional value make up more than a third of the average Australian’s daily energy intake, growing the chances of heart disease a substantial amount. So, it’s no surprise the Heart Foundation is urging people to eat more greens.

Eating healthier would even serve up nation-wide economic benefits, saving $1.4 billion in health spending. Moreover, if the daily recommendation of five vegetables per day is met, the chance of cardiovascular disease is slashed by around 16 per cent.

While the price of healthy food can sometimes make the eye water, and the appeal of junk food makes the mouth water, there has never been a more crucial time for Australians to implement healthier eating into their lifestyle. More than 12 million Australians are overweight and experts say adding just one extra serve of vegetables to your diet has considerable heart health benefits.

How can you fit them in?

While healthy eating can help you lose weight and gain more energy, maintaining this behaviour isn’t always a walk in the park. The home doctor experts at House Call Doctor say setting realistic expectations is crucial to maintaining healthy eating habits, particularly in the long run. It’s also important to remind yourself why you’re sticking to a diet to help stay on course. This can be done from as little as making a list of reasons why you want to stay healthy.

Dieting can be hard in a busy work environment, which is why having a few healthy snacks nearby becomes handy during extended periods away from home. Some great examples of healthy portable snacks are almonds, peanuts, and veggie sticks. Carrots or cucumbers dipped in hummus and celery with peanut butter are a better alternative to processed food.

It can feel difficult to add more fruit and veggies to your diet when you’re surrounded by junk foods. If other family members or roommates aren’t partaking in your positive change, it may be worth asking them to hide their unhealthy foods to eliminate the temptation completely. As the saying goes: “out of sight, out of mind”.

You should also make sure you’re taking time to enjoy your food and appreciate its nourishment. Not only will it keep you fuller for longer, but it will also increase your chances of making lasting behavioural changes. A four-month study found overweight and obese women who practiced mindful eating significantly improved their relationship with food.

To ensure you’re sticking to healthy habits it’s worth finding a friend or family member to join you. That way, you’re both able to motivate each other to stay away from processed food. Researchers studying data from over 3,000 couples found that when one person made a positive lifestyle change like increasing physical activity, the other was more likely to follow their lead.

Everyone has their own ways to approach finding and sticking to a diet, including mindful eating, keeping unhealthy snacks out of sight, carrying healthy snacks, and managing your expectations. This is the reason why it’s vital to find a long-term solution for you.

To learn more about heart-healthy eating, visit the Heart Foundation website. We’d love to hear your stories of finding and keeping healthy eating habits!