Nutrition Made Easy For Busy People

The 40 Fruit and Veg Challenge

If you like a challenge but don’t want to follow a radical detox programme, this one’s for you! When a nutritional therapist colleague challenged me to eat 40 different fruit and veg in a week, a combination of professional pride and my competitive streak ensured that there was no way that I’d back down.  It’s a really clever way to shake things up a bit and help you break out from your comfort zone of the same old vegetables and would be a great way to kick-start a healthy New Year. You’ll also find it gives you a massive energy boost!

There weren’t any formal rules, but I decided to make it slightly harder by ensuring that I didn’t overdo the fruit and I committed to eating a full portion of each one. No cheating allowed! Here’s how I got on and what I learned:

Day 1
This felt easy peasy. I didn’t really have to think about it and I was feeling a little smug by the end of the day!

Breakfast: overnight oats with grated apple
Lunch: avocado, spinach and cherry tomato salad and a satsuma
Dinner: salmon with pan-fried courgettes and bell peppers
Total: 7/40

Day 2
I had to think a bit harder on Day 2 and found I was adding extra veg, because for me a salad isn’t a salad without a tomato. I also got a bit carried away with the chillies in my determination to achieve a portion size, which meant that the soup was a bit lively!

Breakfast: chopped melon with granola
Lunch: egg with mixed leaves (lambs lettuce and lollo rosso) with mushrooms and green beans. An orange
Dinner: butternut squash with red chillies, garlic and onion.
Total: 16/40

Day 3
I’m loving how this is making me think outside the box to achieve the level of variety I need. I’m lucky to have a really good greengrocer very close to home, so I’m picking up smaller portions of veg. Even so, the fridge is starting to fill up with veggie odds and ends as I move onto to a different option each time.

Breakfast: banana porridge
Lunch:  beetroot and chicory salad and a pear
Dinner: Stir-fry with leeks, pak choi, sugar snaps and baby corn
Total: 24/40

Day 4
I knew things would get tricky now – this little Christmas elf was heading out of town overnight to put up her Dad’s Christmas decorations. Things were challenging but doable when I was based at home but it’s much harder when life gets in the way. I’d deliberately saved my pea and carrot allowance for Day 4, as I knew I’d be eating with my Dad and he’d be less enamoured of some of my, more creative veggie combinations!

Breakfast: blueberry granola
Lunch: char-grilled aubergine; radishes with houmous and a pot of chopped mango (thank you M&S!)
Dinner: pan-fried haddock with peas and carrots
Total: 30/40

Day 5
Things didn’t get started until I got back into town in the evening, so my average had really dropped. I was eating out with a friend and completely thrilled to spot some olives on the table. Tick! I chose very carefully off the menu, as there wasn’t much that I hadn’t already had and I was very excited to see hake with Jerusalem artichokes and cauliflower, so I chose that as the main course. I was feeling well back on track with just two days to go, so imagine my horror when the main course arrived and they served it with green beans and carrots instead. What a blow! When I questioned the waiter, he apologised and said they’d run out of the other vegetables. I’ve never done this before and you may think I’ve lost my mind, but I had chosen the meal specifically for those vegetables and so I sent it back. This is what the 40 fruit and veg challenge will do to you! I ordered the Christmas dinner instead, which came with turnips and a stingy 2 Brussels sprouts. I suspect the chef hated me by now.

Breakfast: poached egg on toast
Lunch: Tuscan bean soup
Dinner: olives; parsnip soup; turkey with Brussels sprouts and turnips
Total: 34/40

Day 6
On the home straight – only one more portion to go and I’m there!

Breakfast: green juice with broccoli and cucumber
Lunch: mushroom (repeat) omelette and a pot of grapes
Dinner: chicken with roast parsnips (repeat), buttered cabbage and a few more Brussels sprouts to make up for yesterday’s mean portion.
Total 39/40

Day 7
It was all over by 9am!

Breakfast: raspberry granola; kale, celery and apple (repeat) juice
Total: 41

I absolutely loved doing this and it really make me focus on my food choices and my shopping. I was constantly thinking about how I could achieve more variety and it kept me on my toes. One thing that struck me very forcibly throughout is how full I felt – all these vegetables provide a massive injection of complex carbohydrate which really does keep you going for longer. There was simply no room for snacking.

So now it’s your turn: I’m passing the 40 Fruit & Veg challenge on to you.

– 7 Days
– 40 fruit and veg
– a decent (fist-sized) portion of each
– try not to over-do the fruit

Do you think this is something you could manage? It would be the perfect way to start 2018!

If you want to inject some Va Va Voom into your life in 2018, my new 30-day programme could be just what you need. Click on the link to find out more.