Eating 50 different foods a week will benefit your health. Find out about this challenge!
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from Helen Drew-Bradley, an Instagram Chum of Mine

Recently my stepdaughter, concerned that she was about to start Uni and feeling tired and lethargic, went to see a friend of mine, Lisa, who is a nutritionist. She came back with a B Complex supplement (she was B12 deficient, not uncommon in young Vegans) and a list of foods to try and include in her diet. To achieve this Lisa set her a target to eat 50 different foods in a week. By encouraging her to increase the variety of food that she ate, she would benefit from a more diverse range of vitamins and minerals, improving her health and making her feel better. Being the supportive stepmonster that I am, I volunteered to do the challenge with her and so was born our 50 Foods In A Week Challenge.


The aim is simply to eat 50 different foods in a 7-day period. We start our week on a Monday but you can start any day of the week. There is only one basic rule – you can only count a food item once in the week. However, my Stepdaughter likes clear instructions and rules, so we made up some additional ones to help make things clearer:

• A food item is a single ingredient. So, for example, an apple counts as one; 3 eggs in something you have cooked also count as one.
• If you are cooking something from scratch, then all ingredients count if they are in sufficient quantity that you can recognise them in the final product.
• If you are eating something that you have purchased ready-made, then only the first three ingredients can be counted and again only if they are in sufficient quantity that you can recognise them in the final product.
• Likewise, if you go out to eat, you can only count ingredients that are in sufficient quantity that you can recognise them in what you are eating
• Herbs and spices count if they are fresh (Herbs) and you have added them yourself. I forget this one a lot and do myself out of points.
• You must have eaten at least 75% of the item for it to count. In other words, you can’t count it if you try something new and spit it out. Made up after my stepdaughter tried Avocado for the first time.
• Dark Chocolate is a food item. Rule added at my request.
• Crisps are potatoes and only count once irrespective of flavour. Rule added by me due to my stepdaughter’s crisp addiction.
• Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Sesame Seed Oil, Walnut Oil and Rapeseed Oil count if used for cooking and/or in a dressing. Sunflower Oil and Vegetable Oil don’t count. Made up to encourage us to eat healthy oils and fats.
• Peanut butter and Peanuts are the same and only count once. Obvious I know, but I tried to count them as two in the first week.
• Drinks don’t count. Even fruit tea. Made up by my stepdaughter as I drink a variety of fruit teas and wanted to count them.
• Varieties of food items only count if they are noticeably different. So, for example, red cabbage and green cabbage count as two, but beef tomatoes and cherry tomatoes count as one. The overriding question is – do they contain different vitamins and minerals? Different colour is a good indicator that they do.
• None of the above rules really matter (except the one about dark chocolate) as you’re only fooling yourself!

In my first four weeks of embracing the challenge I scored 48, 34 (we were on holiday and I found it a struggle as I wasn’t preparing my own food), 39 and 49. My stepdaughter smashed it the first two weeks (50 both weeks) then had a meltdown about starting Uni and lost focus, returning to living on chickpeas, sweet potatoes, asparagus, crisps and chocolate. She has promised me once she is settled, she will take it up again.

I must admit it’s made me think really about what I eat and realize that I had got very lazy about food – preparing the same easy dishes all the time and not really looking at the variety of ingredients that I was using. I feel more energised and have a general improved feeling of wellness. I also have the slightly smug air of someone who is eating healthily and knows it.

It’s not easy. The week starts off well – all the old favourites like my chicken salad that I make for lunch and my home-made seeded crackers can get my count to 20 in the first day, then it gets more difficult. Finding a different protein other than chicken (may go to protein); varying salad ingredients; eating different vegetables and fruit, by the end of the week I’m only adding 2 or 3 new foods a day. The good news is that I’m using more fresh herbs (although I do keep forgetting to count them), I add a sprinkle of nuts on to salads and pasta dishes (there are a lots of choose from and they are mostly all different) and I’m eating more fish and a wider range of fruit.

This weekly challenge has become part of my life now and I intent to continue – so are you up for the challenge too?

Helen Drew-Bradley writes a lifestyle blog aimed at over 50s called Nearlyquintastic – you can find her blog here www.nearlyquintastic.blog and follow her on Instagram at nearlyquintastic.
Lisa Burgess is a nutritionist and kinesiologist and you can find her at Lisa B Balanced Natural Health Clinic http://m.facebook.com/www.lisabbalanced.co.uk
For more information about the 50 Foods in a Week Challenge go to the website www.50foodsinaweekchallenge.co.uk , follow on Instagram at 50foodsinaweekchallenge and visit the Facebook page 50foodsinaweekchallenge.