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April 27, 2007

7-10 Servings a Day

I try to be a relatively healthy eater. I have bananas or oatmeal for breakfast, make stir fries for dinner, snack on nuts during the day, etc. But even given decent habits, I can't imagine I'm getting more than four or five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Seven or ten seems like more food than I actually consume. Does anyone reach this Olympian ideal? If so, how?

April 27, 2007 | Permalink


Perhaps a better question is this: how do you define "serving"?

Posted by: jhupp | Apr 27, 2007 11:27:50 AM

Drinking V8 helps you get there. So does eating salad.

Posted by: Hubbard | Apr 27, 2007 11:32:29 AM

The key is the size of a serving. A serving is usually half a cup. So it's easy to eat many half cups of cooked kale for example, or any other green. And a half cup of banana is about a half of a banana. And a half cup of orange juice...
Snacking on nuts may not be such of a good idea, though. Lots of calories...

Posted by: robert mcconnell | Apr 27, 2007 11:45:03 AM

An even better question is why did the Powers That Be define "serving" in a way that makes it sound utterly impossible to meet a recommended goal?

Posted by: nolo | Apr 27, 2007 11:54:37 AM

Random fact: if you weigh more than 300 pounds when your body is ready for cremation, there is an 'extra' fee.

So watch those 7-servings days, especially if you have any protein and fats your diet (LOL).

The whole recommended nutrition thing sort of ignores the calories in/calories out equation. No wonder people are overweight, the guidelines imply a entirely mythical person, with a mythical daily schedule, eating a mythical diet.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Apr 27, 2007 12:05:54 PM

robert's right. A serving isn't the amount of food you put on your plate at once. Basically, 1/2 cup of fruit or vegetable is one serving.

For juice (100% fruit), just 6 oz.

Posted by: tim | Apr 27, 2007 12:14:39 PM

You may be getting more servings of vegetables than you think. Dont forget that ketchup is made from a vegetable. Donuts are made from wheat, which is a form of vegetable matter. Hops are also a vegetable in the biological sense.

Posted by: RW | Apr 27, 2007 12:20:17 PM

I find 7-10 easy. For breakfast I have a shake with milk, berries, a banana and protein powder (2 servings), for a 10am snack I have an apple (1 serving), for lunch I always include a salad or veggie sticks (2 servings), in the afternoon I have an orange (1 serving), at least 1 cup of juice (1 serving), and then 1 or 2 servings with dinner. Presto.

You should continue to eat nuts, btw. It's "good fat" that won't make you gain weight -- provided they're not that kind that have been saturated in oils and salt.

Posted by: moo-cow | Apr 27, 2007 12:22:47 PM

Eat raisins as a snack. Along with the nuts. Moo-cow has it right there - good fat, not bad. The trick is to find all the healthy snacks that you actually like, and swap them in for unhealthy ones. With that and your regularly healthy meals, you'll be amazed at how quickly you'll make up those 7-10 portions.

Posted by: Sam | Apr 27, 2007 12:32:54 PM

We're talking about the Food Pyramid, right? You do know that it has historically had more to do with US food subsidies than actual nutrition, which is why it used to tell you to eat umpteen servings of bread every day....

Though the newer personalized ones are better; if you look at them you'll notice that some veggies/fruits are better than others (dark green veggies vs. bananas, etc.). Though I still doubt their motives when it comes to telling Americans what to eat.In the "grains" menu, for example, they don't mention that almost every loaf of bread you'll buy uses high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener, meaning all the health benefits you get from whole wheat are pretty much cancelled out...but then we don't want to piss off ADM.


Posted by: emjaybee | Apr 27, 2007 12:46:53 PM

I put fruits and vegetables in a 1 or 2 or more horsepower blender. (I'm now using a VitaMix). I also keep nuts soaking in the fridge, and throw them in the blender first.

Posted by: Janus Daniels | Apr 27, 2007 1:23:07 PM

My dinners usually have about 5 servings of vegetables alone.

Posted by: yoyo | Apr 27, 2007 1:23:08 PM

I usually eat something like a curry/stew/stirfry

Posted by: yoyo | Apr 27, 2007 1:32:51 PM

Hops are also a vegetable in the biological sense.

Oh man, then I had, like, 12 servings of vegetables yesterday.

Posted by: Jason | Apr 27, 2007 1:39:39 PM

When I was in college, I gave up beer and started drinking screwdrivers because I figured it was orange juice and vodka, which is made from potatoes. Totally vegan, dude.

Posted by: Rick | Apr 27, 2007 2:17:04 PM

An even better question is why did the Powers That Be define "serving" in a way that makes it sound utterly impossible to meet a recommended goal?

Agreed 100%. One banana or one grapefruit should be one serving, not some number between one and three servings depending on the size of the fruit.

Posted by: fiat lux | Apr 27, 2007 2:35:22 PM

FL, if the size of the fruit varies, then obviously the nutritional content varies too. If a big grapefruit weighs twice as much as a little grapefruit, then it counts as twice as many servings. Besides, I imagine most grapefruits are consumed as halves.

Posted by: KCinDC | Apr 27, 2007 3:09:44 PM

Ezra you need to eat more gorp(good old raisens and peanuts). It is now sold at inflated prices and called trail mix. You can make your own. Put in your favorite nuts and dried fruits. I make one with toasted almonds, pecans, dried cherries and good dark chocolate. My favorite trail mix which i developed in my 6,000 miles of backpacking is equal parts peanut m&m's, raisenettes, and reeces pieces. MMM! And remember Mike and Ike's now have more fruit FLAVOR!

Posted by: cheflovesbeer | Apr 27, 2007 3:15:43 PM

KC -- I'm well aware of that. But the goal here it to get people to eat better, not to confuse and/or frustrate them, right? If so, you tell me, which of these might actually get through to Joe or Jane Doe and cause them to follow the advice?

1) Consume 7 to 10 1/2 cup servings of fresh fruits or vegetables a day.

2) Eat a piece of fruit with every meal.

Strictly speaking, #2 is less accurate, but it's built around how real people live and eat. It's advice that makes sense on a gut level, is easy to remember and to follow. It has a hell of a lot more chance of actually getting through to people than #1.

This is about marketing as much as it is science.

Posted by: fiat lux | Apr 27, 2007 3:39:47 PM

Janus Daniels soaks his nuts in the fridge and then throws them into a 2 horsepower blender. I'd put 'em in the freezer first.

Posted by: slickdpdx | Apr 27, 2007 3:41:16 PM

Since I'm always preaching DASH diet to my patients, I struggle to down those 9-11 servings every day. I feel that as a Democrat, I can't be a hypocrite.

Eating fruits and veg takes work. I eat a lot of pre-cut raw vegetables as snacks when I travel and cut up bunches of vegetables myself at home. I really likely those little bags of snap peas, too. I have a big salad for lunch most days, and fruit for dessert. I put applesauce on my oatmeal to sweeten it and keep little applesauce cups in my desk for back up. Vegetable soup, vegetable sauces on pasta, etc. all count as vegetable servings. I also just put a big heap of vegetables on the plate when I serve food. Last night we ate 1/2 lb of salmon and an entire bunch of asparagus split between the two of us.

A serving is:
1 cup of raw leafy vegetable
1/2 cup cooked vegetable,
a piece of fruit (like a peach or an orange)
1/2 cup of cut up fruit,
6 oz of juice

Posted by: J Bean | Apr 27, 2007 4:02:45 PM

I'd recommend avoiding salad. A while back I took to having salad on a regular basis as part of an ongoing health drive. I like to get those bags of prepared salad, the types with various mixed leaves - makes it a bit interesting. Anyway, I'd been doing this quite happily for a while and then one night I was glancing idly at the back of a salad bag while leaning nonchalantly on the kithen unit. Imaging my trill of delight upon discovering that "This bag of salad contains 1 (!!!!!!!!!) of your daily recommended intake of fruit of vegetables". One!!!! As an experiment I opened the bag and piled the entire contents on the plate. Even squished down it was enough so that about two thirds of it fell off onto the floor.

The next day I took to eating purple sprouting broccoli.

Posted by: Anthony C | Apr 27, 2007 4:33:47 PM

i eat ten fruits and vegetables each day, and i will tell you my secret....i eat ten fruits and vegetables each day!
plain and simple!!!!
organic bananas, oranges, grapefruits, apples, pineapples and more!!
juicy and yummy....so good for you!!
you will never be hungry and there is always a fruit or veggie to satisfy you!

Posted by: jacqueline | Apr 27, 2007 5:14:08 PM

Please be aware that dried fruits count differently than their fully hydrated cousins. One half cup of dried apricots is about 5-6 and if you ate the regular thing that would be alot. I like to rehydrate my fruit in vodka first so I don't make any serving size mistakes, later mistakes are usually the vodka's fault ;)

Posted by: Hawise | Apr 27, 2007 5:33:23 PM

8-10 servings for a small woman.

Breakfast (2 SERVINGS): 1 cup mushrooms, shallots, peppers, tomatoes and spinach in an omelet

Morning snack (1 SERVING): 1/2 cup berries with yogurt

Lunch (2 SERVINGS): 2 cups greens plus veg in a salad, plus a bean dish

Afternoon snack (1 SERVING): apple and almonds

Supper (2-4 SERVINGS): Some stew, curry or sauce with a little meat, some starch, 1-2 cups veggies

Posted by: Mary | Apr 27, 2007 5:57:56 PM

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