Monday, 7 April 2014

Five, Seven or TEN a day ?

A few weeks ago, I really enjoyed a 2-part programme on BBC called Famous, Rich and Hungry - it was in aid of Sport Relief. Four wealthy celebrities went into people's homes in the UK and lived off their minuscule budget for a week (something like £1 per person per day? - no joke). 

Can you imagine having £4 and having to use that to give 3 meals a day to a family of 4 with that money? I can't. 

I've been meaning to blog about this for a while. Since last week's news that we should be now eating at least 7 portions of fruit / veg a day, I thought now would be a good time to put fingers to keyboard.

One of last week's news headlines was that we should all be eating at least 7 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. This was not news to me - our university lecturers have told us from the start that Five a Day is not enough. 

The thing is - most of the British public struggle to eat 2 portions of fruit or/and veg a day so how can health professionals / the government expect us to step it up a gear and eat even more greens? I don't think its achievable or realistic. 

Guess what? I am about to graduate with a degree in Nutrition and not even I always get my 5 a day...! Well sometimes I do, if you include Carrot cake...

Rachel Johnson - a super duper author and journalist was one of the "famous and rich" celebs to participate in this programme. She's written about her week here , here and here  - she said she didn't see / eat a single piece of greenery during her stay with her 2 families and by the end of the week she was "bloated, exhausted and angry". 

If there was no money or no food, they didn't eat. It was as simple as that. Many parents went without food in order that their children could eat. Sometimes, they had to go to soup kitchens / food banks. Research shows that the highest rates of obesity are amongst those from the lowest social economic backgrounds - because people spend the little money they have on fast / junk food that is high in sugar and fat and not much else. 

Rachel found that the cost of 1 swede would have blown her daily budget. She had to beg for 9 p off the street to buy some mince. Fresh food is SO expensive - hence why the family she was with hardly consumed any veg. The child had never seen a leek before.

Interestingly - many of the families had Sky TV AND they smoked yet they couldn't afford food...  There will be some people out there who do eat Five or more portions of Fruit / Veg a day - and thats great. They will also find ways of doing it without breaking the bank. But not everyone can find the balance of nourishing themselves well without breaking the bank.

Most of these people were on benefits - the benefit money should come in the form of food vouchers, credit for electricity / gas - NOT cash for iPads, Sky TV subscriptions etc. 

Also - other countries have advocated the consumption of many more than five a day before now so why can't we keep up with them?  It is horrifying to think that this kind of poverty / malnourishment is happening right here in the UK.

This programme has prompted me to visit my local food bank with a few tins of soup - BUT they only like tinned / long lasting stuff - and that includes tinned mashed potato, tinned shepherds pie, tinned EVERYTHING - which, to be honest, is not exactly helping the problem.

As a nutritionist and lover of Sport Relief, I was fascinated by this programme - it got me thinking. I don't think we will be seeing an improvement in fruit or veg consumption anytime soon - not least because food prices are always increasing and its hard to changes habits - we are such creatures of habit. The junk food should be expensive and the healthy food should be cheaper - but we source the healthy food from far away and that is party why it costs more. And its much more complicated than that. 

I can't find episode 1 but here is episode 2 - do watch:


  1. In case anyone wants to watch the first episode, here's a link:

    1. Thank you so much! I've just tried to load your link and it says its not available in "my country". How annoying. I am sure part 1 will pop up on YouTube at some point in the UK soon and I will add it. Hope all well with you. xx