Eat a rainbow!

Fruits and vegetables come in many different shapes, sizes and colours. They contain fibre, vitamins and minerals, and are naturally low in calories. Their colour comes from natural compounds called ‘phytochemicals’ which also have properties beneficial to health. Many of these are ‘antioxidants’ which help prevent damage to cells by mopping up damaging effects of ‘free radicals’. This can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.

Which vegetables are best whilst on Slim & Save?

As you will already know, fruit is not allowed on the programme. This is because fruit contains natural sugars, mainly fructose which are a form of carbohydrate. In order to stay in ketosis on the plan, it’s important to keep your carbohydrate intake under 70g per day if you are under 17st and to keep under 75g per day for those over 17st (238lb/108kg).

As you will also know, certain vegetables are allowed on the programme. Vegetables are really important to include because of their fibre content, which helps to keep you fuller for longer. They also contain important vitamins, minerals and ‘antioxidants’ which help maintain our health, metabolism and prevent disease. Whilst on the programme, you can include several vegetables, and introducing a good variety now will stand you in good stead for the future and weight maintenance.

You may have heard the phrase ‘Eat a Rainbow’ with regards to fruits and vegetables. While there is no specific scientific evidence that having a balance of colours will in turn lead to a balance in nutritional content, you’re more likely obtain your essential nutrition by eating a variety of different coloured vegetables, rather than just sticking to say, “cauliflower or mushrooms”.

Certain vegetables are allowed on the programme (200g per day on Simplicity and Lifestyle), and these fall into the category of green, yellow or white/brown vegetables. In order to show you the specific properties of different coloured vegetables, these have been categorised into their colours.

• Green vegetables – contain the pigment ‘chlorophyll’, which is responsible for their colour. Broccoli and spinach also contain the yellow pigments lutein and zeaxanthin, which are phytochemicals that may help prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. There is also some research to suggest that lutein and zeaxanthin may slow the growth rate of cancerous tumours. The dark green leafy vegetables allowed on the programme (broccoli, spinach and watercress) are also rich in vitamins and folate (and contain small amounts of iron and calcium). They also contain glucosinolates; phytochemicals that activate enzymes which detoxify cancer-causing substances and help protect the body from damage. Try including a range of suitable green vegetables in addition to those mentioned: courgettes, leeks, celery, cucumber, asparagus, green peppers and lettuce.

• Yellow and orange vegetables – the yellow and orange pepper and the flesh of swede are great examples of yellow/orange vegetables allowed on the programme. Swede contains carotenoids, in particular beta-carotene (which helps us make vitamin A, a vitamin which enables us to make hormones, maintain a good immune system and healthy eyes) and beta-crytoxanthin (which has important antioxidant properties, protecting cells from damage).

• White and brown vegetables – vegetables like cauliflower, mushrooms, white cabbage and the boiled flesh of turnip give us a range of different phytochemicals. Cauliflower in particular is a good source of indoles, another important ‘antioxidant’.

The importance of fruits & vegetables after Slim & Save

If you have come off the VLCD programme and are maintaining your weight, eating a range of fruits and vegetables is really important. As already mentioned, vegetables (and fruit) are a good source of fibre, especially the skins and pith of these foods. Their fibre content fills you up for longer, preventing you from feeling hungry between meals. A good plan is to fill at least half of your dinner plate with a range of vegetables and/or salad before you plate up your starchy carbohydrates and protein. If you’re still hungry after your meal, finish up with some fresh fruit and natural yoghurt, rather than having seconds of protein and carbs. Fruits and raw vegetable sticks also make nutritious, low calorie snacks if you’re hungry between meals.

Consider including a range of different colours in your diet each day, rather than sticking to your usual repertoire of a banana and apple every day. In addition to green, yellow/orange and white/brown varieties (as discussed above), include red, blue/purple and more variety of yellow/orange fruits and vegetables too.

• Red fruits and vegetables – foods like tomatoes and watermelon contain the powerful ‘antioxidant’ lycopene, which may protect against several cancers and cardiovascular disease. Strawberries and other berries contain anthocyanins, also antioxidants, with a role in preventing cancer. Red fruits are often great sources of vitamin C. Choose a variety, e.g. raspberries, red grapes, red cherries, rhubarb, red pepper, cranberries, strawberries, watermelon and radishes.

• Blue and purple fruits and vegetables – the pigments anthocyanins give these foods their colour. Blueberries may also be linked to improving memory and promoting healthy ageing. Choose a variety, e.g. purple grapes, red cabbage, aubergine, blackberries, elderberries, raisins, figs, plums and blueberries.

• Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables – Choose a variety, e.g. melon, apricots, peaches, papaya, mango, oranges, satsumas, carrots, butternut squash, sweet potato, pumpkin, yellow peppers and sweetcorn.

What is a portion and how many portions should I have each day?

A portion of fruit or vegetable is around 80g. This equates to one apple or banana, two small fruits, e.g. plums or a 3–4 tablespoons of peas or sweetcorn. For general healthy eating, we should eat at least 5 portions of a range of different fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately potatoes don’t count! You may have heard of studies in the media quoting closer to 7 or 10 a day. The 5-a-day message comes from the World Health Organisation advice, which suggests this provides a good balance of nutrients with a realistic, achievable intake. Even with the UK’s 5-a-day campaign, national diet and nutrition surveys show us that only 31% of us are actually achieving their 5-a-day. The take home message is that if you’re not achieving your 5-a-day, eat more, and if you are achieving this target, well done, but include even more!

But I’ve heard that fruit is bad for me!

Contrary to what you might have read in the media, fruit is good for you. Yes it contains fructose, which is a form of ‘natural’ sugar; however when this sugar is ‘intrinsic’ to the fruit, i.e. inside the cells of the fruit, it is digested very differently to table sugar or sugars that are added to food. Don’t forget that when eating the whole fruit, like an apple or some grapes, you also get the fibre which slows down the digestion process.

I hope this advice regarding eating a variety of fruit and vegetables helps when looking to maintain your weight loss after Slim & Save. However please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or need further advice or support whilst maintaining.

Written by Annemarie Aburrow RD BSc (Hons) PGDip, Slim & Save Dietitian.

17 comments

  1. Have a go at growing your own, you don’t need a lot of space for lettuce and radish. Tomatoes grow really well in sunny window boxes along with chilli plants.
    If you get the children involved they love trying and eating what they have grown. We have runner beans,French beans and peas in the borders round the lawn along with the flowers and lettuce. The peas never make it to the pot the kids eat then raw.Nothing tastes as good as veg you’ve grown.

  2. This is a great article… I acquired a greenhouse this year so planted all the things allowed on plan, courgettes, green beans, peppers,(3 different kinds) chilis,(5 different kinds) lettuce, cucumber, fresh corriander, parsely, chives.
    I put onions, spring onions & mangetout into pots.
    I love being able to cut them fresh and incorporate into S&S meals.
    I keep trays of loose leaf exotic lettuce and plant a new tray every week or 2 so that I always have a supply of fresh baby leaves, young and tender.
    Seeds were ordered from Ebay. Much cheaper than buying veg from the shops.
    Even if you don’t have much space or you are not a gardener (I wouldn’t consider myself a gardener, most of the time I just ‘wing it’!) you can keep window boxes or pots with fresh herbs and baby lettuce leaves, peppers and chilis will grow on a windowsill too.
    It gives you a real buzz to grow and cook your own produce! Give it a whirl 🙂

  3. Great article, with really good information ,I have been on sns for 4 months and have lost 4 stone, I have another 3 stone to lose, the information will help me make good choices on healthy eating. I didn’t know how you value a peice of fruit because they are all different sizes and nutritional value,which will guide me to maintain my weight afterwards. The more colour in a meal makes it appetising, I also use a nice bowl or plate. I am going to try new new veg that I haven’t eaten before, thanks for the article.

  4. I have to admit before Slim & Save the only veg I would have was in a Sunday roast! Now I eat all kinds I hated peppers before but now I fry them with chicken in fry light with a little chilli, garlic salt and use lettuce leaves to wrap them up the taste is just amazing! So amazing my other half has the same when I make them and doesn’t need to diet!

    People say Slim & Save is bad for you and I really can’t understand why because not only does your body feel great, no bloating more energy etc it make you try things you wouldn’t normally such as veg and wow there are so many tasty things to make!

    Even when I get to my goal (and I will) Slim & Save will still be a big part of my eating habits even when I come off it veg will always be in my diet you can do so much with them and the taste is just amazing.

    With all the fast food around our days it’s the FAST part people look for, folks take some time and do it our way you don’t know what your missing!

    Read this article twice really makes you think about food in a new light!

    ××

  5. I’ve been maintaining now for 2 years. I tend to eat my 5 a day by having berries with my breakfast,mixed salad with my lunch,then veg with my evening meal……so I’ve got a bit of variety each day and by having 2 pieces of fruit as a snack. I’ve totally changed my lifestyle for the better now. ( thank goodness)!!
    Great article Annmarie,thank you Hun

  6. This is a great article, but I think most people know that they should be upping their veg intake when not stocking their cupboards full of Slim and Save goodies! So I thought I’d give a few tips on how I try to incorporate more veg into my diet easily and tastily.

    1) Try to make soups, stews and casseroles. You can add plenty of veg – it makes it go further and slow cooking makes it taste delicious! I also try to substitute the higher carb veg for swede or carrot.

    2) When people think about eating more fruit or veg, they instantly seem to think of fresh fruit and veg, but frozen or even tinned can be great option. I add frozen or tinned spinach to curries – its much cheaper than fresh and because it’s frozen, I always have it on hand. Frozen cauliflower also works great for a mash substitute on a cottage pie!

    3) Substitute high carb items for veg – instead of spaghetti, use spiralised courgettes (you can get a cheap julienne peeler for a couple of pounds) to bulk it out, when making a lasagne every other sheet instead of the pasta use slices of veg like aubergine.

    4) Pre-prepared stuff is a huge help – I buy ready prepared soffrito (diced, carrot, onion and celery) that I can just mix with lean meats and stock to slow cook, carrot sticks are always fab and pre-prepared salads are so easy and reduce any “I can’t be bothered to prepare anything healthy” slip ups when you’re tired or get home late and are hungry.

    5) Bulk cook healthy meals with lots of veg and freeze in portions. Again, this helps when you are tired and can’t be bothered to cook.

    6) Try cooking things in different ways and with different herbs and spices. Cauliflower is lovely roasted with cumin, Kale makes great crisps and you can even make your own vegetable crisps in the microwave without oil (just search pinterest!)

    7) Finally if you really struggle with veggies and don’t like to eat them (and we all know many of us do :)), why not think about investing in a smoothie-maker, you can mix all sorts of combinations together and get your Rainbow that way.

    I hope these tips help everyone who has worked so hard on their journey to keep on being as healthy and happy as they can be from all their hard work and reaching their goals. Love to all you super SnS losers!

  7. AnneMarie Thanks for the comprehensive information that i will take forward in my journey in getting things right, at a mature time in life. Alongside with the food choices from Slim and Save.

    The one thing I find difficult with Fruit and Veg is keeping it fresh, especially when you are trying to put a variety together for a day and the whole week.

    Will you be covering seeds in a later article, it’s nice to be educated for when I meet our targets

    Thanks Michael

  8. That’s an interesting read. I always called salad rabbit food as it’s not that filling and isn’t very tasty and would laugh when I would order a b****r and it would come with salad and the only veg I had was on my Sunday dinner once a month that my mam would make and invite me and family to. Since starting slim and save I was reluctant to eat it but it’s quite nice. I still don’t eat much salad but as for veg I can’t get enough of it. It won’t get touched in the fridge cos my hubby and kids don’t like it haha x

  9. ok, so we all know that fruit and veg is what we should eat more of when we aren’t filling our cupboards with Slim and save packs but when eating normally perhaps we need to think about how we can include them without too much effort and ease so I thought I’d give my tips that I use.

    Soup or casseroles – these are a super easy way to fill up on veggies. Instead of potatoes switch to use lower carb items like swede or carrot. Slow cooked they create delicious healthy meals.

    Pre-prepared, frozen and even tinned veg can be really helpful, convenient and low cost. I like to put spinach in my curries and frozen or tinned spinach is great for that plus it’s much cheaper than fresh and I always have it . Pre-prepared carrot sticks, are a great healthy on hand snack to have as are the salad bowls that you can get from the supermarket.

    Switch carb heavy items for vegetable substitutes or go half and half – eg swap spaghetti for spiralised corgette or when making a lasagne every other lasagne sheet can be replaced with sliced corgette or aubergine.

    Think about cooking veggies differently – roasted cauliflower (with frylite) sprinkled with cumin is lovely, or kale crisps and dry fried garlic mushrooms are lovely!

    Batch cook healthy veg rich meals and freeze for go-to convenience.

    If you can’t face eating fresh veggies – maybe investing in a smoothie maker might help you get your intake up.

    Subway salad bowls are brilliant when out and about instead of their subs.

    I hope some of these ideas help for those that have put all that effort into getting to goal and don’t want to ruin all that hard work and all they’ve achieved in being healthy and happier.

  10. I’m very much a rainbow person, I love colourful stuff, food included! Since doing Slim & Save though I’ve totally fallen in love with eating vegetables – before starting the plan I’d never eaten kale, samphire or celeriac and now they’re amongst my favourites. I thought I hated swede but going forward I’ll definitely eat these over potato chips. I’ve tried new stuff I never would have touched before like flower sprouts (kale and brussel sprout cross) and purple sprouting broccoli. And courgette noodles with a bit of salt, pepper and butter frylight is actually like a treat to me now. Amazing!
    People keep telling me how unhealthy doing this meal replacement diet is but for me abstaining from everything else while getting a healthy dose of veg is anything but. My favourite salad at the moment consists of grated courgette, finely sliced orange and yellow peppers, finely sliced red chillies, red onion, fresh coriander and some black olives. Taste the rainbow!

  11. Since starting Slim and Save I have become far more aware of vegetables and how filling they can be. My early days on the diet the thought of being forced to eat 200g veg daily gave me horrific flashbacks to school dinners with teachers sitting telling us to clear our plates. It took well into adult life to realise that green veg is supposed to be green and have shape rather than grey, washed out and slimy. It’s a natural cleanser too, I’d encountered a few ‘toilet’ issues growing up and then discovered regular portions of fresh green veg was helping me a lot. Now every evening meal there’s a large portion of crisp green veg. Slim and Save and the varied allowed veg made me experiment, no longer did I run away from cabbage or Brussels Sprouts, I experimented with different ways to cook them. Sprouts dipped in a little soy sauce then roasted changed my whole outlook on sprouts as something I was forced to eat on Christmas Day. The lists provided of veg which was low carb also helped me experiment – a few years ago I’d never have imagined, sitting eating kale sprinkled in salt and cooked to make it crispy in front of the TV as a popcorn or crisps replacement..

    Many years of different diets had taught me nothing about the value of veg in helping fill me up and making a meal look more appealing. Learning the carb values and trying to squeeze the maximum food out of a restricted calorie or carb count made me far more experimental and encouraged me to move outside my comfort ‘carrot, broccoli and cauliflower’ zone. The whole family eat more veg now. In the winter months, pots of vegetable soup are constantly on the go as a quick filling snack, again learning the lower count veg meant I tried different concoctions of soup. I’d never have thought of beetroot as a soup ingredient before, but the bright cheery purple makes me smile on cold winters nights.

    Slim and Save is more than just a meal replacement diet. Their Lifestyle plan helps you learn more about real food and how to use it to keep your weight down by filling your plate with the rainbow. The prettier the plate is to the eye, the more filling it appears to be.

  12. What a great article! I have honestly surprised myself regarding vegetables since I started sns. I would turn my nose up at them regardless of what they were. It was almost like I was afraid of them! When I was a child, I was told by a very silly doctor to stop eating certain veg and for me, that was it. The doc was right, veg was trying to kill me!! I started on just the meal packs on sns because I couldn’t bear the thought of ‘ruining’ them with veg. Slowly but surely, I started to introduce some very plain veg into my meals. Now, I get excited thinking about the myriad of things I can make with simple vegetables! I am attempting to ‘eat a rainbow’!!

  13. I’ve always been a big salad and veg lover, there salad bowl is out for my children to dive into every meal time. I’m also a lazy salad and veg lover, frozen veg and berries in the freezer at all times. Ready made bags of salad for ease but I find doing it this way had always encouraged me to have me. Meal times are very important in our house and I sat with my kids last night ranting about filling themselves up with the salad. It makes a dull and boring meal colourful, vibrant and interesting. Thanks for a great article xx

  14. Since starting slim and save, the thought of ever going back to a beige plate of food for tea is horrifying.
    I’ve found that if I eat out, there tends to be less salad options as a side and more carb filled extras rice/pasta etc I had to ask very very nicely for some extra salad in leu of coleslaw and got a blank stare the other day!
    I’m glad that my veggies are colourful and healthy and they’re helping me get to my goal and I feel fantastic – I think I’m also keeping the local supermarket afloat with the amount of broccoli I buy too! For the first time in my recent adult life I don’t suffer with crippling stomach pains – all down to my diet change and the old me would never had believed it 🙂

  15. I think Fruit should be treated as ‘natures desert’ and seen as a ‘treat’ I think the people have become confused with ‘5 a day’, fruit shouldn’t really be included in that, I personally steered away from vegetables and had loads of fruit, then wondered why I gained weight, fruit is good for you, but should be seen as a treat, but got to admit I’m loving my vegetables on sns

  16. Great article! I’m often surprised by how little vegetables people, in general, tend to eat. When I’m in the UK, I find that I have to specifically ask for more salad/veg/etc and am usually told that they don’t tend to put a lot on the plate as it often gets wasted.

    Isn’t a plate full of colours and variety much more appealing than beige, grey and brown of bread, chips, and pasta? Yet some people are fooled into thinking that these bulk items fill you up instead of a smaller portion of greens and reds. Restaurants serve these things because they’re cheap – not because they’re healthy. Your body knows what it needs, it’s a case of listening to it!

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