Does healthy eating have an image problem?
I'm certain you will have heard this message before. The 5-a day health message has been around since 2003, yet most people do not eat 5 a day.*
In fact, in 2018, only 28% of adults were eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. It means the majority of the UK population don't eat enough plants to make a positive difference to their health.
What we put in our bodies matters. Research is expanding our knowledge of nutrition. Yet so much if what is available to eat is mass produced using chemicals and processed ingredients. These ultra-processed food products have a reduced nutritional value. It’s far better to eat real food.
For many years calorie counting and fad diets have the popular choice for hopes of losing weight and being healthier. It's now increasing clear that eating a wide variety, of real food, are the foundations of a healthy diet. This highlights how dubious elimination diets are as a solution to eating well. Not all calories are equal.
When we eat whole foods and plants it does us good; our bodies like it. The evidence is undisputable. More and more research is being published that shows a whole food, plant-based diet is good for us. This way of eating can reduce inflammation and lower (even reverse) the impact of a whole range of long-term health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.
So why is it that so many people do not manage to eat 5-a-day? I'd suggest it has a lot to do with the pervasive presence of food marketing. The power of food marketing makes it difficult to ignore.
I think many people would like to eat better. Yet it's very easy for the lit up signs, and food smells of the drive-thru to sway people. Eating well can mean resisting temptation, no wonder it can feel hard. I'm not sure if healthy eating has an image problem, more that the world has made it a harder path to follow.
I’m interested to hear what you think. What do you eat and what barriers do you face to eating as well as possible.
- Is it time or energy?
- Is it lack of ideas or skills in the kitchen?
- Is it falling back on old habits and convenience food?
- Is it your circumstances such as chronic illness, disability or bereavement?
- Something / anything else…?
I’d love to learn from you. Let me know your thoughts on how you eat and what you struggle with when it comes to healthy eating. Leave a comment below.
* The 5-a-day health awareness campaign was launched by the UK government in 2003 to get people to eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day. The proportion of the population meeting the recommended ‘5-a-day’ on a ‘usual day’ was 55.4% in 2019 to 2020 and this was slightly better at 56.8% in 2015 to 2016.