Three Easy Tips for Diet Diversity
Updated: Dec 12, 2019
I recently posted a picture on my social media pages of a bowl of food I prepared after a gym training session. I received a couple of private messages about exactly what was in it, why I chose those ingredients etc. which has prompted me to write about how that particular meal came to be.
Firstly it was all about dietary diversity; secondly it was about nutrient density. This post will just talk about dietary diversity and I will do a post on nutrient density in the future. Even though I eat a predominatly wholefood, plant based diet, I thought I ate plenty of fruit and vegetables. But when I looked at my actual dietary diversity, I discovered I didn’t eat enough of them; vegetables in particular.
So let’s define “enough”. I ate a large quantity of vegetables, but I tended to eat the same ones. So it became a (bad) habit of mine to buy, eat and prepare the same meals with the same vegetables. I wasn’t getting enough variety and therefore limiting the amount of micronutrients, trace elements, and other beneficial things that eating a good variety of vegetables brings.
I also discovered that I didn’t eat enough legumes, favouring grains like rice and wheat. Skimping on the legumes meant skimping on my protein, which I knew, but compensated for that with increased eggs and protein shakes. To me the value of these substitutes was convenience. But again, I limited my dietary diversity.
To help me overcome my behaviour of opting for the same foods I adopted the following strategies:
Colour – the easiest way to improve what’s on your plate is to try and have at least five different colours. You will end up with green, red, yellow, browns white, purple, orange, even clear/transparent foods. There is so much variety out there, just choose five. Think colour when you shop, think colour when you prepare your meals.
Snacking - this is a great opportunity to improve what you eat. Opt for a small handful of raw nuts (not peanuts) like almonds, walnuts, and brazil nuts. Again, go for three different kinds to reap the benefits each has to offer (hit me up if you want info on nut benefits). Eat a piece of fruit or have some celery with some nut butter (don’t overdo the nut butter as it is high in fat so calorie dense).
Juicing – juices are a quick win for improving fruit and vegetable intake. I aim for three types of vegetable and one serving of fruit maximum. Don’t overdo the fruit because it does contain sugar (fructose) that once juiced out of the fruit, is easy for the body to metabolise and may overload you with too much that the body will have to store. You wouldn’t eat three apples in one sitting so don’t juice three apples. I aim for half an apple, or a whole kiwi fruit, plus half a lemon (skin on).
When you think about your diet and how diverse it is, what do you discover? Everyone’s diet is different and we can all make improvements in different ways and areas. You might find you eat a lot of red meat, but hardly any fish; or perhaps you eat a lot of pre-prepared/processed foods so lack freshness and quality.
I can help you uncover where you could make improvements just like I did when I looked at my own dietary habits.