31 Ways to a Better Diet
Posted by kathryn in Uncategorized
Eating well is one of the foundations of health. A good diet not only reduces your risk of ill-health in the future, but it will make you feel good right now. A good diet enables your body to function at it’s best – so you will have more energy and vitality.
Do you feel overwhelmed?
However changing your diet can feel like an overwhelming task. Eating more vegetables, reducing saturated fat, having plenty of fibre, balancing kilojoule intake, eating less processed foods . . . the list of dietary advice goes on.
But you don’t have to change everything at once. Instead you could make regular small changes. Tackling your diet one habit at a time. And if you approach dietary change in this way, over the days and the months you will be changing the way you eat in a practical and sustainable way.
During August I posted one dietary challenge every day. And together these add up to 31 ways to make your diet better. Thirty-one different tasks and food related challenges, which will improve the way you eat. And if you do all or some of these:
- You’ll be eating more fruit and vegetables
- You will have a better awareness of your eating patterns and how to make your diet work for you
- You’ll have tried some different foods and also increased the variety in your diet
- You will be on the way to controlling hunger and the portions you eat
- Plus you’ll have worked out some strategies for eating well when you’re busy
Make a commitment to changing your diet. And be realistic.
Over the next few weeks and months, how much time do you really have to make changes to your diet. It’s easy to over-commit and end up disappointing yourself. To avoid this, spend some time thinking about your schedule and make a commitment. Being realistic is an important part of changing your health.
It’s easy to lose track of what you’re eating. You may think your diet is full of vegetables and well balanced, but is it really as good as you think?
When changing your diet it’s important to get a clear picture of what you’re doing now_, so challenge number two was to "_record everything you eat for seven days":/blog/2008/08/02/day-2-keep-a-diet-diary-for-a-week.
Eating a variety of foods is important. It’s the easiest way to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need.
There are so many wonderful foods out there, it’s a shame to restrict your eating to the same foods week in and week out.
Why not try something different "from a food group you rarely consume":/blog/2008/08/03/day-3-which-food-group-don-t-you-eat.
In my opinion, one of the most useful things for making it easier to eat well is a stockpile of plastic containers. These make it easier to take your lunch to work.
Which saves money and means you can control what you eat. Avoiding the high fat, high sugar, high sodium options found in most food halls. Get some plastic containers.
A guest post, this one from Crabby McSlacker of Cranky Fitness fame, talking about ways to make a salad more interesting:
“I’ve learned to include ingredients I really like that may not be super low-cal, but are healthy and filling and make a salad something to look forward too”. Make your salads more enjoyable by splurging just a little":/blog/2008/08/05/day-5-salad-splurges.
A post asking what are your hunger signs? It may seem like a funny question, but many people don’t know when they’re hungry, which is a problem. If your day is structured you may never get to the point where you’re actually hungry. People also mistake other signs for hunger, such as dehydration and tiredness.
A task designed to increase cooking skills and confidence: take an ingredient from the back of your pantry and include it in dinner. Using up ingredients from the cupboard is a great way of increasing the scope of your diet. You already have the ingredient in the house. You’ve already been persuaded to eat that food. Now you just need to cook it.
A reminder to take some time over your meals. If you gobble down your food, thinking about everything but what you’re eating, how can you possibly be satisfied with your food?
This challenge was to switch off the TV, eat away from your desk, use a knife and fork. Savour, enjoy your food and spend some time over your meals.
This task was the second guest post in the 31 Days to a Better Diet series. This time from Mike Kinnaird of Habit Guide. Mike’s suggestion is to create a structure to your diet
This can be repeated each day and provides a simple framework, which takes the guesswork out of nutrition. Save yourself some time and create a structure.
Fitting all the vegetable serves into a day can seem overwhelming. However it’s much easier, if you spread the vegetables out. Adding a few to all your meals and snacks sets you up to easily reach the five a day target.
Try to include vegetables in every meal . . . even breakfast. It’s easier than you think.
You might understand that criticism from others can affect your confidence. But did you know criticism from yourself can be even more damaging?
Negative self-talk can be constant and unrelenting, distorting your perceptions and making you feel bad. This post is about tuning in to your self-talk about food.
Another guest post, this time from Cassie of Veggie Meal Plans.
“I’ve learned to keep convenient vegetables and fruits on hand so I can add them to my plate with minimal effort. I don’t always have the energy to tackle fresh artichokes, but usually manage ten seconds to slice a cucumber to put on the side of a bowl of chilli.” Add more fruit and vegetables to your plate.
To avoid food becoming too much of a routine, my suggestion in this challenge was to flip your diet and spend the day doing the opposite. Every time you eat something ask yourself what would I normally do – and then make a different choice.
Do the opposite, or just do something different. Get out of your routine and your comfort zone and flip your diet.
One easy way to increase the variety of foods you eat, is to change your bread.
Choosing a different loaf means you’re still eating a food you know and are used to, but you’re also adding to your nutrient intake. It’s a simple way to get that little bit more variety in what you eat. Don’t go for the same old thing, choose a different bread.
In a busy life it’s handy to have a couple of easy, flexible dishes in your cooking repertoire. The kind of thing you can make at the end of a long day, using what’s in the house.
The top of my list for this kind of cooking is a frittata. You can include plenty of vegies, use only one saucepan and it’s ready in 20 minutes. So get practising and "make a frittata":/blog/2008/08/15/day-15-learn-how-to-cook-a-frittata.
A guest post from Lucy of Nourish Me about increasing the vegetables you eat, by trying something new on a regular basis.
“It is easy to fall into ruts; to mechanically reach out for the same things, rushing, as we do, through busy lives. But Variety, well, she really is the spice of life.”
“Try something new this week”:":/blog/2008/08/16/day-16-something-new-each-week.
Unless you read the ingredients list of every product and know a bit about food, it’s easy to miss what you’re actually eating.
Food packaging is covered in marketing, so this task is to ignore the hype and check the actual ingredients.
One of the easiest ways to get more variety in your diet is by boosting up your breakfast. Adding yoghurt, fruit, a sprinkle of nuts, or some vegetables are all easy and quick ways of increasing the nutritional impact of what you’re eating.
Plus they add only seconds to your morning routine. So increase the variety of your diet and "oomph up your breakfast":/blog/2008/08/18/day-18-oomph-up-your-breakfast.
Sophie from Mostly Eating guest posts with some wise words about avoiding those alcohol fuelled food blow-outs.
“Having some food in your stomach slows down how quickly your stomach empties. When you drink alcohol not long after eating a meal or snack the alcohol takes longer to get from your mouth to your bloodstream”. Try eating before you go out drinking.
Taking lunch to work saves money and is generally a healthier strategy. However an unappealing lunch is unlikely to keep you on the nutritional straight and narrow.
Keeping some foods at work, good lunch-time fodder, can make this easier. But they have to be foods you both like and find easy to use. Avoid the local takeaway by keeping a pantry of foods at work.
Each time you try a new food you make a judgement about it. A bad first experience can put you off something forever.
Retry a vegetable you avoid. Cooked in a different way and matched with different flavours, you may actually like it. Don’t limit the foods you eat, try something again and see if you like it this time.
A good breakfast can set you up for the day. Stabilising blood sugar levels and helping to keep mood and energy even-keeled.
However do you know which is the best breakfast for you? Some people are better on cereal, while others need a more protein-infused meal. Experiment with different breakfast and "find out which works best for you":/blog/2008/08/22/day-22-what-s-the-best-breakfast-for-you.
A guest post from Lindsey of Oh Sunday School. Lindsey’s eating well strategy is to put together a “clever shopping list each week”:":/blog/2008/08/23/day-23-compile-a-clever-shopping-list.
“I am much less likely to make impulse purchases of foods I don’t really need or aren’t very good for me, it means that I am guaranteed to have enough food in the house to create fresh, healthful and appealing meals every day”
Do you buy the same fruit each week? Dull, bland tasting stuff because you know you should eat fruit and it’s the cheapest on offer? This may be a false economy. Boring food is unappealing.
My suggestion: stop buying bags of fruit you don’t really like because they’re on special. Instead choose something you love, fruit that makes you salivate. Buy the best fruit you can afford.
Eating a variety of foods is a cornerstone of good nutrition. But lack of time and the lure of convenience, means many people eat the same things day in and day out.
Spend a day seeking out new and different foods. If you can increase the variety of foods you eat on a regular basis, you’re improving your diet. How many different foods can you eat?
Shauna from The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl writes about changing your attitude to treats. Work out what you really like, down-scale your portions and savour every bite.
“I’ve always believed that a life without chocolate is not a life worth living, but in order to shed that weight and maintain my loss I had to reinvent the way I treated my treats.” Here’s how to do it.
For some dining out is a rare treat. Special occasions only. However, if you’re dining out or getting take-away a couple of times a week, this is part of your regular food routine. And you need to consider what you’re eating.
Make up for the lack of vegies in most restaurant meals by choosing a side dish of salad or steamed vegetables.
Lentils, red kidney beans, chick peas, black beans are all legumes. And they’re a wonderful source of nutrition. Including these foods in your meals each week will improve your diet.
Try out some legumes, use them in different ways and your health will benefit. Here’s how to "make legumes a regular part of your diet":/blog/2006/07/12/lovely-lovely-legumes.
The bigger your plates the bigger your portions are likely to be.
Reduce the size of your portions, without feeling deprived, by down-sizing your crockery. Save the large plates for salads and vegetables and use smaller plates and dessert bowls for the meal.
This guest post from Katrina of Kale for Sale is about being more aware of where your food comes from.
“I believed I could put healthier food on the table than what was manufactured or delivered from around the world to the corner store. And I was right. I could and I am. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.” Improve your diet by "becoming a locavore":/blog/2008/08/30/day-30-wild-minded
Pick one or two of the challenges. They could be the ones you’ve most enjoyed, or the tasks which will make the biggest difference to your diet. And continue doing them. Adapt these changes into your daily and weekly routine. Integrate them into your life, until they become normal for you.
Then you will have achieved the goal – "your diet will be better":/blog/2008/08/31/day-31-which-of-the-31-challenges-are-you-going-to-continue.