Okay, so maybe you already know that your diet could use some help. The reason your diet is a bit lackluster is often complex. However, the following are the three most common explanations that clients share with me.
- Lack of awareness. You may not really know what to eat, or maybe you simply forget to eat the suggested servings for fruit, vegetables or dairy. There is nothing sinister or evil happening. Life gets busy, and it is easy to get caught up in it.
- The dreaded food rut. You just eat the same foods over and over again.
- Availability. There are times you eat foods simply because they are fast and available.
Take a moment and reflect on whether and why your diet is lacking variety or certain nutrients before reading any further. Regardless of your answer, mindful eating can help. It can shine the light of awareness and help you uncover the reason your diet is a bit lackluster.
Did any of the three common reasons ring true to you? If they did, pause again and really check in. Is now the right time for you to make changes? Acknowledge whether you are dealing with a heavy schedule and extra stress. Adding variety to your diet means you have to be open to change. The specific change in question is your willingness to try some new foods. That requires making the time to purchase, cook and eat foods that might not be familiar.
If you are up for the challenge, here are a some simple ideas on how to add more of three important nutrients to your diet.
Three Nutrients Your Diet Needs: Fiber, Calcium and Omega-3
Most of my clients would benefit from adding more fiber to their diet. Adding fiber can help you feel fuller longer, blunt blood sugar rise and increase the nutrient density of your diet. Fiber is actually an easy thing to add if you like whole grains, fruits and vegetables. However, if these are not the foods you naturally reach for, consider the following ideas.
- Check out fiber-rich recipes online on I Am Hungry Recipes. However, there are thousands of searchable online resources.
- Make a point to choose a fiber-rich food for breakfast such as cooked (not instant) oatmeal (by reading the labels, you will notice that the fiber content of oatmeal varies from 2 to 8 grams). Experiment with high-fiber cereal like Fiber One or Kashi. You can also choose whole-grain breads, deli thins, flat breads or English muffins for breakfast or as part of your lunch.
- Adding fruits with skins or seeds can also add fiber. Examples are any berries, apples, pears or peaches with the skin, grapefruit or oranges. Fruits you eat without the skin are lower in fiber. These include all canned fruit, fruit juice, bananas and melons.
- Having fiber rich whole-grain snacks on hand can also help. Examples include crackers and breads, popcorn, and whole-wheat pita chips.
Another nutrient that most people, especially women, need more of is calcium. Calcium-rich foods include milk, yogurt and cheese. These foods have the added benefit of protein, which creates a feeling of satiety, helping you feel fuller longer.
- Include 8 ounces of low-fat milk at lunch or supper.
- Bring yogurt or low-fat cheese to work as a snack.
- Add reduced-fat or part-skim cheese to casseroles or sandwiches.
- If you are not able to eat three servings of calcium-rich foods a day, consider taking a supplement.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
When you eat mindfully, you may notice the need to switch your thinking, especially about eating fats. For so long, fats have been labeled as “bad.” Research has helped us understand that eating healthy fats are an important step in preventing and managing heart disease. This is why another nutrient most people need more of is omega-3 fatty acids. These are found in cold-water oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines. If you have diabetes, the American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week. Omega-3s are also found in flaxseed, walnuts, some eggs and enriched margarines. If your diet is lacking these foods, omega-3 or fish oil supplements may be an option.