Why don’t potatoes count towards your 5-a-day?

Because they are not colourful enough.

And people would assume that meant they could eat chips five times a day and be okay.

The same goes for ‘legumes’ (they are trying to imply baked beans), which can only count for one portion. And fruit juice can only qualify as one (in contradiction with some of the claims made by the ‘quirky’ smoothy people).

Potatoes are mostly starchy carbohydrates. They aren’t particularly good for you (worse if deep fried). The thing about colour at the beginning sounds sarcastic, but actually colourfulness in veg is fairly indicative of it having interesting vitamin/mineral content, which is what we should be aiming for. I’ve heard it said that the best way to get a decent healthy mix of food stuffs is to make sure that you eat a diet with lots of colours in.

Although, friends of mine have attempted diets focussed on only eating purple or yellow things, and lived. (Nota Bene, they were being silly, and Rosie in particular basically just drank yellow nurishment sports milkshakes for a week).

I think I recently heard some hysterical right wing press bemoaning that the whole 5 a day thing had no evidence and was all political correctness gone mad.

In fact, I think it is just a clever marketing campaign, that has been thoroughly internalised by many, and had it’s effect. I don’t know how many people always have five, but I’m pretty sure more people eat veg more often these days. The details of the advice are irrelevant (but need to be there for those who are fond of such things), the key is to eat more fruit and veg.

This should be utterly obvious. For a start, it has a tendency to make you feel better. And some report yesterday said it will make you look sexier too.

It’s all just benign, vaguely ‘here comes the science bit’ PR. There’s perhaps something suspicious about this kind of manipulation, but then, it saves money for the NHS and probably saves lives.

And makes people happier.

I feel noticeably better the more fruit and veg I’m eating. I also feel happier immediately after eating any fruit that is fresh enough. It just works. It feels good and I like it.

That’s enough, surely?

And to be honest, potatoes don’t have quite the same effect. They are a good way to bulk something out, but they rarely make me feel good. Just more full.

But then, fullness is a form of contentment (the kind most likely to make you feel a little sick) so we certainly shouldn’t be down on potatoes.

But we should also try and make a distinction between ‘eating potato waffles’ and ‘living healthily’.

We shouldn’t really need specific guidelines for how to live. But we should probably welcome the occasional suggestion. If only because it might encourage us to make our lives a little fruitier.

I’m off for a carrot.

And Kale’s in season, apparently, so dig on that too.


Illustration by Kat.


About Alex Ava

Joiner of Dots. Player of Games. Unreliable Narrator. Dancing Fool.
This entry was posted in Questions by Laura, Special Guest Illustrations. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Why don’t potatoes count towards your 5-a-day?

  1. purplesapho says:

    Oh those potatoes are so cute! I want me some! *grabs a purple one*

  2. Kay says:

    Potatoes are very healthy – full of potassium, vitamin b6, magnesium, vitamin c, etc.

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