Food and mood | Wellbeing

Adding in the good stuff

Qualified nutritionist and Family Tree member Karen Maude gives some tips on how to include more vegetables in your diet

By Chloe French · Published: February 2, 2021

healthy salad on a table

Be kind and don’t set yourself up to fail by embarking on a new weight loss diet.

Dieting has been found to do more harm than good by starving your body of the nutrients it needs, which consequently slows down your metabolism and actually encourages weight gain in the long term. Frustratingly, this makes it even more difficult to loose weight in the future too.

Aim for health instead this year with sustainable and achievable goals that will ultimately support weight loss, but in a less drastic fashion, that won’t leave you feeling hungry.


Add healthy foods in

Start by adding in some healthy foods gradually, rather than cutting out the foods that you know aren’t so good for you and build on your success with an extra addition each week.

Here are my top tips:

  1. Eat one extra vegetable a day

The NHS recommend you eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day which is a great target to begin with.  If you aren’t there yet, start by adding one extra vegetable a day which can be fresh or frozen. Try and choose a different colour each time; eat the rainbow to get as many vitamins and minerals as possible, for example red peppers, orange carrots, purple beetroot, green broccoli. Potatoes don’t count because they are high in starch.

  1. Eat 2 pieces of fruit a day

Choose fresh or frozen fruit for snacks or dessert for essential nutrients that are often undereaten including vitamin C for skin healing and joint health and potassium for maintaining blood pressure. Fruit juices don’t count as they are high in sugar and contain little or no fibre and can cause problems with blood sugar management. Grab a banana or apple before you leave the house ready for when you get hungry.

  1. Eat a whole grain food once a day

These foods include brown bread, rice, pasta and oats and you could also try quinoa and bulgur wheat. Whole grain foods contain the entire grain kernel which means there are good levels of fibre to help with digestive problems such as constipation and irritable bowel syndrome, whilst iron and B vitamins help maintain energy levels.


Put it into practice

Example dinner before you introduce vegetables
MainBreaded chicken goujons with oven chips and baked beans.
PuddingApple pie and custard

Instead of the above example, try some of the following, adding in more vegetables each week:

Week One – Dinner with one vegetableWeek Two – Dinner with two vegetablesWeek Three – Dinner with three vegetables
MainRoasted thyme chicken breast with home made potato wedges and green beans.Roasted thyme chicken breast with home-made potato wedges, roasted onions and green beans.Roasted thyme chicken breast with mashed sweet potato, roasted onion and green beans.
PuddingBaked apple and dried fruitMixed berries and yoghurt (full fat, not light)Watermelon slices

Healthy eating really doesn’t have to be complicated nor expensive. By taking a stepped approach you’re more likely to achieve your goals and get closer to feeling your best every day.

by Karen Maude, qualified nutritionist and WellChild Family Tree member, and Chloe French, WellChild Family Membership and Engagement.

[email protected]

First published 2 February 2021

Last reviewed 11 April 2022

Next review due April 2023