Bear in mind that the ADG recommends only 5 servings of vegetables per day for teenage girls and women, and 5.5-6 servings for teenage boys and men. For fruit, only 2 servings will fulfill Australian Dietary Guidelines’ (ADGs) recommendations for both males and females 9 years and up.
What’s a serving? A measly 75 g of vegetables, or roughly 1/2 cup cooked and 1 cup raw leafy vegetables; and just 150 g of fruit. To meet ADG recommendations, therefore, you would only need to eat 375-450 g of vegetables and 300 g of fruit per day.
If you’re eating as little fruit and vegetables as this – and remember, most Australians are failing to meet even these pathetic targets – then, by definition, you’re eating too much high energy density, low nutrient food… because something else has to be taking up all the space on your plate that isn’t being occupied by fruits and vegetables.
The point which the authors of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report skirt around, without directly addressing, is the problem with the way most people – including most nutrition scientists – focus on nutrients rather than on food.
Australians are fatter and sicker than we’ve ever been in our nation’s history, yet we’re not, broadly speaking, deficient in the nutrients that most of us are concerned about.
As a nation, we’re simply eating too much of the wrong kinds of food, and not enough minimally processed plant foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes – which makes the inadequate fibre intakes unsurprising. No amount of food fortification can compensate for this deficiency in real food.
How about teaching kids how to choose, prepare and cook vegetables in appetising ways? Even better, how about tearing up some of the unused grounds that most schools have, and planting vegetable gardens in their stead, so that kids actually see what they look like when they’re growing, and get some healthy outdoor exercise in the process of tending them?
How about holding a walkathon to raise funds, rather than flogging piles of sugar, white flour and partially hydrogenated vegetable fat masquerading as food to raise a few dollars for the school’s charity?
There’s only one way to avert this train wreck: change the way you eat. Start by getting the processed food out of your fridge and pantry, wiping Uber Eats off your phone contacts, and getting more plants on your plate.