I love fruit, but I don’t eat it regularly. I am not the only one caught in such incongruity: according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment, every Spaniard eats on average 13.29 kilos of fruit and vegetables per year; A measly 36.4 grams a day (a small plum). After carefully analyzing it for five long minutes, I have come to the conclusion that the fruit, although delicious, resists us due to a host of catastrophic misfortunes.
Going to buy it is an ordeal: in most supermarkets – where we buy it 53.6% of Spaniards– Buying these products takes the longest, and involves going through the drawers one by one equipped with uncomfortable gloves and bags that cost a lot to open, not to mention that you then have to weigh them and make a knot. When we eat out, we automatically discard them on the grounds that we consume them at home (lie!) And we prefer to get out of the routine by choosing a cake made in an industrial estate.
“An orange, two kiwis and a plum. Since my usual option is a coffee with milk, two toasts and a glass of orange juice, I have the feeling of being at the buffet breakfast of an all-inclusive in Cancun.”
Mixed feelings also cause vegetables, which, although I am not able to find the intense flavor they say they have, I consume to a certain extent given their suitability as a garnish for meat or fish dishes, or in the form of a salad.
But it seems that we are falling short, much more than you might think. Although the World Health Organization (WHO) had established that 400 grams of fruit and vegetables a day was the healthiest measure, a comprehensive review of 95 studies by the London Imperial College (United Kingdom) has set the bar even higher: it maintains that in relation to heart attacks, strokes, cardiovascular diseases and mortality from all causes (including cancer) “the lowest risk was observed with a consumption of 800 grams per day (10 servings per day) ”. How much is a serving? According to WHO, an orange, a banana, two kiwis, two plums, a slice of melon or pineapple (similar proportions for vegetables). More studies, this time carried out by the University of Otago (New Zealand): eat high-fiber foods reduces the risk of coronary and cardiovascular diseases.
To find out if 10 servings a day of these foods are within human reasonableness or, on the contrary, make one end up loathing everything that grows on the ground or hangs from a tree, ICON asked me to try the diet on my own meats during solo five days. This is the result. After that time, I asked Dr. Juan José López Gómez, member of the Nutrition area of the Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition (SEEN), to make a general evaluation of my challenge.
Day O: my fridge explodes with four kilos of vegetables and fruits
I buy. I go through the tortuous process of bags, gloves, drawers and weight, and I return to my home dragging four kilos of fruit and vegetables. First dilemma: where do I keep it? Since there is no space in the fridge, I leave it at room temperature; in fact, I decide that inside the shopping bag will be the sea of good. To my surprise, my partner tells me that if I don’t keep it in the fridge it will spoil.
He tells me that he had to have made several small purchases instead of one large one. I respond magnanimously that in the supermarket these products are on the air: I have seen it with my own eyes! “But they constantly renew it,” he informs me, ominous. Not to argue, I examine the inside of the bag and decree that strawberries, plums, pears and grapes are the most susceptible to getting ugly (not so much pineapple, oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, bananas and kiwis), so I make room as I can in the fridge and leave them there, with no collateral damage other than a packet of my daughters’ yoghurt smashed on the ground.
Day 1: my body is no longer a clock
Encouraged by the challenge, as soon as I get up I step on the scale; the result is so unexpectedly terrifying that facing so much food immediately makes me about to throw in the towel (out of respect for the reader, I will not share the resulting figure). Even so, I draw strength from weakness (I tell myself that perhaps it is due to the copious stew the day before) and I face the first breakfast.
I select an orange, two kiwis, and a plum. Given that my usual choice is a latte, two extra virgin olive oil toasts, and a glass of bottled orange juice (and, since recent times, a Danacol), I have the feeling of being at the breakfast buffet of a whole included from Cancun. I have to eliminate something: do I discard the toast? No, because virgin olive oil is as healthy or more than fruit. It takes me long to realize that it is the orange juice that I have left over: I am going to eat a real one! When I finish, I feel satiated, and 20 minutes later I show up with the usual punctuality to my reading time in the bathroom.
“Is my scale damaged? It ensures that I weigh 800 grams less than yesterday, which is exactly the amount of fruit and vegetables that I consumed”
Unexpected effect: an hour later, while I am driving quietly on the way to the newsroom, the urge to go to the bathroom comes back furiously, something unusual for those of us who work like clockwork. Unfortunately, I will arrive very close to a meeting and will not have time to make a strategic stop in the bathroom first. Inwardly I deny the kiwi / plum combination. The meeting takes longer than necessary, and when I finally get rid of that discomfort is 11:30.
Mid-morning snack time: two tangerines. To eat I have a salad with turkey and a banana. In the afternoon I feel more energetic; or maybe it’s suggestion. The mid-afternoon snack I forget, and it is almost 8:00 p.m. when I resort to the two mandarins provided. For dinner, grilled chicken fillet with a lush mixed salad, followed by a nice bowl of strawberries with skimmed whipped cheese. As I try to swallow the last pieces, I realize that I have not had a drop of alcohol all day, who knows if inspired by this temporary commitment to healthy life.
Day 2: artichoke burger? Yes you can
My scale is damaged: it ensures that I weigh 800 grams less than yesterday (which is exactly the amount of fruit and vegetables that I put for the body). Encouraged by the news, I add to breakfast, in addition to a banana, yesterday’s treacherous combination: two kiwis and a plum (plus coffee, toast, and Danacol). The preparations are so great that my toast is burning.
Before leaving home I chop the pineapple that I am already salivating with for dinner and I delight in tasting a couple of pieces. At midmorning, the two mandatory mandarins. To eat, I throw tupper with a pasta salad with salmon and an avocado, followed by a bunch of grapes. In the middle of the afternoon, a little fed up with so much mandarin, I eat a very rich pear. For dinner, after a blessed hamburger with artichokes and strips of ham, I devour half a pineapple. Zero alcohol.
Day 3: I go into crisis
I’m planning to eat out today, which may throw my plan off balance. For breakfast I bet on a banana and two grapefruits as an accompaniment to coffee and everything else. Honestly, with the banana I am not capable. Have I entered a crisis? In the middle of the morning I taste the postponed banana, and in the bar-restaurant with daily menu I choose everything from the field that I can: some artichokes with ham and a chicken burrito with something that wants to look like a mix Mexican vegetable (peppers, tomatoes and jalapeños), but that is a ratatouille of a lifetime. Orange for dessert.
On a normal day, the words “cracked eggs with bacon”, written in bold handwriting on the menu, would have inexorably drawn me, but now I see the same devil in them. In the afternoon I forget again about my friends the tangerines, which I sink my teeth into when I get home, around 8:00 p.m. For dinner, sausage with salad and what was left of yesterday’s pineapple.
Day 4: I open the fridge and pack with the salami
Working from home – like today – is also a wonder from a nutritional point of view: my dwindling collection of fruits and vegetables is at hand all day. List of what enters my mouth throughout the day: two pears and a bowl of strawberries (breakfast), a banana (mid-morning), tomato salad and mozzarella with a grapefruit and two kiwis (lunch), two oranges and two plums (mid-afternoon) and a mixed salad and a bowl of strawberries with whipped white cheese (dinner). The scale seems to have fixed itself: it gives me a weight very similar to that of the first day (I liked it more damaged). Despite the fact that the snacking between meals has become healthy, before dinner I open the fridge and carry everything salty I can find: olives, slices of salami, ham. Maybe so much sugar is crying out for the same amount of salt?
Day 5: I have lost only 300 grams
I get to day five and, fortunately, the last. A banana and two tangerines (breakfast), banana (mid-morning), grilled salmon with mixed salad, two kiwis and a grapefruit (lunch), two pears (mid-afternoon) and green beans and a bunch of grapes (dinner) is what I put between my chest and back. The next morning I weigh myself on the scale: 300 grams less than the first day. It doesn’t seem significant, but at least I haven’t gained weight.
“Before dinner I open the fridge and carry everything salty I can find: olives, slices of salami, ham. Maybe it is that so much sugar is crying out for the same amount of salt?”
My conclusions: I am almost certain that I could not maintain this diet much longer; neither me nor anyone. The nutritionist already says it: this is beginning to affect my mental balance. And even so, when I go back to shopping, I find myself picking up the gloves and filling the happy bags with bananas, oranges … (although in smaller quantities). In the following days, I add fruit to breakfast and mid-morning snacks.
Nutritionist assessment. I tell my five-day diet to Dr. Juan José López Gómez, member of the Nutrition area of the Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition (SEEN), and he answers: “The recommendation that we usually make for fruit and vegetables in the Mediterranean diet is five servings a day (three of fruit and two of vegetables). The study of London Imperial College (10 pieces a day) I find it tremendously interesting because of the topic and the exhaustiveness, but you have to make a correct interpretation of it. First, these researchers consider a serving of fruit or vegetables as 80g, which is not the same as a piece (a medium orange can weigh between 100 and 200g). The consumption of 10 servings of fruit and vegetables without a careful control of the rest of the diet could cause two situations: that other foods with important nutrients are eliminated (dairy, legumes, proteins of animal origin) and the consumption of calories and carbohydrates increases. carbon, which can induce weight gain. Simply by introducing a piece of fruit at breakfast, another at mid-morning and a third in one of the two meals, plus two servings of vegetables, we would be facing the most balanced pattern of introducing vegetables ”.
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