How to Improve Your Diet
Taking the First Steps
If you are looking to improve your diet, in the first instance you need to be totally honest with yourself about what you eat and how often you eat it. It has been shown that people often report to others and themselves something quite different from the truth. I recommend keeping a food diary for at least a few days and if you can, for a week so that you are able to address the reality of what you eat.
Improve Your Nutrition
Once you have you have an honest record of your food intake, you should consider the following:
- Pretty much everybody needs to eat more vegetables and fruit, but mostly veg. The World Health Organisation recommends at least 400g a day (1). This shouldn’t only be from fruit or your sugar intake will be too high. Are you eating enough vegetables?
- Try to eat the rainbow. Keep your food choices varied so that you are getting a mix of nutrients. Eat more veg, but make it varied in colour and type – not the same fruit and veg all the time (2).
- Reduce your intake of overly processed food. Try to prepare your meals from scratch using natural ingredients. Try to avoid packaged food with a long ingredient list.
- You should aim to eat organic produce whenever possible . The number of toxic chemicals that our bodies are required to deal with in the modern world is increasing so reducing this load wherever possible can only be beneficial.
- Increase the number of herbs and spices you use (3). This will be easier if you are preparing your own meals. They will add flavour and will provide a lot of health benefits. Beneficial and easy to incorporate herbs and spices are: garlic, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin and chillies/pepper. If you cut out processed food, then don’t be concerned about adding salt – our bodies need it to function effectively.
- Eat regular meals and give your body at least a couple of hours to digest your food before snacking or eating again. Your gut needs to time to clean out your system (4).
Increase in Energy Levels
If you make these changes, you should experience an increase in your energy levels, improved brain function and better sleep. You may notice a change in the amount you poop! It is thought that most of us are constipated to some extent, with the ‘usual’ once a day trip to the toilet for a number 2 being too little. It would make sense that when you ingest more food, room needs to be made in your system for it, so something needs to be expelled. Following this logic we should be visiting the toilet three times a day if we’re eating 3 regular meals (5). As your body benefits internally from your improved, more nutrient dense diet, you will start to notice it on the outside in your skin, hair and nails. The external changes will be less immediate as your body has more to gain from improving the function of your internal organs first, but after a few weeks you should notice that your skin has a healthy glow and your nails and hair are stronger.
- Tecco, B.D. 2005, Put a Rainbow On Your Plate, Scholastic Inc, Stamford.
- Blending the Benefits of Flavor and Health through Herbs and Spices 2008, Vegetus Publications Inc, Haverford.
- Enders, G. 2015, GUT, Scribe Publications, London, UK.
- Williams, X. 2010, Vital Signs for Cancer, Piatkus, London, UK.