Cheat your way to 5-a-day

20 April 2017 by
First published: 21 May 2016

Want to up your vits and improve your health? Just cheat your way to 5 a day…

The government advises you eat five 400g portions of fruit and vegetables to lower the risk of serious health problems like heart disease, stroke and cancer, and some research even seems to suggest that five might not be enough! But when you’re busy, it’s hard to eat a square three meals a day, let alone manage to make them healthy.

The number of people in the UK who ate their “five-a-day” reached an all-time peak in 2006, according to Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet: England 2015. By 2015, only 64 per cent were actually managing their full five. So here are some cheeky ways to sneak as many fruit and vegetables into your diet as you can.


You can literally get all five-a-day into one smoothie without even trying. Granted, that would be quite a large smoothie, but even a few fruit and veg portions gets you closer to that magic number. It requires little other than a chopping board, knife, and blender.

It’s difficult to go wrong. Most fruits are sweet, and taste good together, and you can throw in a veg or two for good measure, so feel free to experiment. If you’re not that way inclined, there are also a plethora of recipes out there that are pretty easy. Breakfast smoothies are also great, by the way.

Display them proudly

Buying fruit and veg is half the struggle, yes? No. Once you’ve bought them, you have to actually find a way to eat them. Which can be more difficult than it sounds. Once it’s in the house, put it somewhere accessible and in eyesight. Then, when you want a snack, it’s right there. If it’s already washed, you’re good to go. You’d have to make more effort to find the cake.

Putting the fruit bowl right by the door means it’s easy to grab something on your way out. Or on your way in.

Sneaky baking

Who was the first person to decide to put carrots into cake? I don’t know, but maybe it was someone who wanted to eat healthily. All I’m sure of is that eating something with vegetables in it means you’re eating more vegetables.

To be completely transparent, how healthy this is depends on how healthy the cake is. As long as you are sure to keep the mixture reasonably low-fat, it’s a nice way to make something that would be unhealthy into one of your five-a-day. And heads up! Ice cream made of mashed bananas is a gift to mankind.

Cooking them in

There are many meals that veggies can be added to without you even noticing. Adding some carrot to a tomato sauce will make very little difference to the taste, but means you’re one step closer to the goal. Maybe try sneaking some leek into your soup. Or slipping some green beans into a chilli. It’s a good way to tricking yourself into eating five-a-day.

Double Up

When cooking, take the amount of veg the recipe says, and “double it”, but do this by adding another vegetable for every one they recommend. You say sweetcorn, I say sweetcorn AND peas! Or whatever is appropriate for that meal.