There are trolley loads of diets out there, but when it comes to choosing what is best for you where are you meant to start? Don’t get too overwhelmed, if you follow these three basic principles you’ll be on your way to building a nutritious diet.
Remember variety is the spice of life
And yes I’m talking about what’s on your dinner plate, not what’s on for dessert… Just like many areas of life, we can get into a bit of a rut and happily eat the same thing day in day out. For me it was vegemite toast for breakfast, tuna on toast for lunch and a banana or vita wheats as a snack everyday of the working week. Dinner was usually pasta or a rice based dish.
I thought it was easier to plan lunches by eating the same thing, but having no variety doesn’t give much room to provide your body with additional nutrients it might be missing out on. And in my case, saw me overload on wheat, contributing to the sensitivities I now have.
By selecting a wide variety each day, week and throughout the year you are much more likely to give your body the chance to obtain all of the nutrients it requires for health and wellbeing.
Eating two serves of fruit a day is great, but if the fruit is always a banana and an apple for example, you could benefit from switching it up and trying something different. While bananas are rich in B group vitamins, strawberries or an orange will provide you with plenty of vitamin c.
An easy idea to get more out of your diet is to ensure the meals you do have are jam packed with nutrient dense ingredients.
Check out my recipe for hearty pumpkin soup that sneaks in a couple of extra ingredients that easily add some additional variety to your meal and bumps up your veg intake.
A good diet is one that doesn’t rely heavily on processed foods such as tinned, frozen, pre-packaged or fast food. Our bodies are designed to eat food that is as close as possible to its original state. This eases digestion and absorption of key nutrients into the blood to be used as energy.
Eating wholesome foods can be tricky to master if you eat a lot of breads, cereals and pre-packaged meals but there are many healthier choices you can make to reduce the amount of processed foods you eat. Choose wholegrain bread instead of white; eat oats for breakfast instead of boxed cereal, and try cooking as often as possible.
Next time you purchase something that is packaged take a look at the amount of preservatives, colours, flavours and additives it contains and see if you can switch it to something of greater nutritional value.
Read the product spotlight on buckwheat for an example of how an easy food swap can give you a boost in nutrients without compromising flavour.
At the end of your day, your body and what you put into it is your choice. Just because someone else is cutting out sugar or trying a gluten free diet for example, doesn’t mean you have to do the same. We are all different and our bodies need different things. It’s been said before, but I’ve found this advice helpful: Listen to your body, it’ll tell you what it needs.
Many things will impact what you eat, such as digestion and absorption, sensitivities and allergies,even the cost of food can play a large part. A main concern for many people however, is physical activity. If you are super active your body will most likely need more energy to get you through the day. However if you work in an office and don’t move around too much you probably won’t need to eat such high calorie foods.
If you choose what is right for you, keeping the above three principles in mind it can work as a good starting point to build a nutritious diet.
Source and inspiration: Principles of Nutrition and Diet, Module 1, Kristen Beck, Beck Health & Nutrition, 2014