Having a well-balanced diet can make us feel better physically and mentally and maintaining one can help you get through 2022 with a smile on your face. But where to start? With so many fad diets around it can feel overwhelming and impossible to have the ‘right diet’.
Well, I’m here to tell you there’s no such thing as the ‘right diet’. Each body is individual and has different needs. We all live very different lifestyles and have different priorities, so there is no one size fits all approach.
There are some universal truths that can help you figure out the diet that will get you feeling your best and I’ve rounded them up below so you can make some simple changes that can have a big impact.
Foods to cut down on:
No foods should be seen as off-limits, but some should only be consumed in moderation, and by making the switch of only having these foods once in a while you can see big changes in your body and mood.
Overly processed foods should only be consumed in moderation. They often include unhealthy levels of added sugar, sodium and fat that can go undetected unless we carefully read the label. They taste good but are not nutritionally dense (meaning they don’t fill us up), which leads us to eat even more! It’s a vicious cycle that can lead to serious health issues such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Many oils and spreads we use in cooking can also be high in saturated fats, which can increase the bad cholesterol in our bodies. Try to swap these for unsaturated oils and spreads, decreasing your risk of heart attacks or disease.
Foods to consume more of:
You should aim to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day. They’re great for getting important vitamins and minerals that boost your gut health, skin health and mood. If you struggle to get these in try starting the day with a smoothie, using a good balance of fruit and veg.
Foods with high fibre content, such as wholegrain bread, beans, nuts and broccoli can help us feel fuller for longer, while also aiding indigestion. Eating plenty of fibre has also been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and bowel cancer. Try to get your fibre from a few sources and include some in every meal.
Milk and dairy products, such as cheese and yoghurt, are a good source of protein and calcium. Many dairy alternatives also fit these criteria, being fortified with calcium. Wherever you get your calcium, it’s great for bone strength and development, but be sure to choose lower fat and lower sugar options where possible.
Protein is key for muscle growth and repair, which is especially important if you regularly exercise or lead an active life. Beans, pulses, eggs, and lean meats such as chicken, fish and low-fat beef are all excellent choices.
Make sure to hydrate your body. The Eat Well Guide recommends drinking 6 to 8 glasses or 2 litres of water a day in order to prevent dehydration and keep us feeling mentally sharp and our digestive system working properly. Dehydration can also lead to headaches and migraines, which we all would like to avoid!
Drinking more water has also been found to lower a woman’s risk of developing UTIs, with an “estimated 50% of UTIs being treated by drinking fluids alone”.
Maximise your diet’s effectiveness
Staying active while making small changes to your diet can have a big impact. Combined, they will allow you to achieve your goal of feeling better faster. Both will help reduce your risk of heart disease, allow you to build some muscle to feel stronger and improve your mental health.
Adults should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Studies found that 35% of adults are not getting enough sleep, which hinders their daily productivity. Lack of sleep can also make us more likely to seek comfort in food and make poor food choices. If you struggle with your sleep, we have another blog that might be just what you need.
Use this blog as a guide to making small but mighty changes to your diet and you’re guaranteed to both see and feel results, which should improve your lifestyle! If you would like to discuss and elements of your health or lifestyle, book an appointment with one of our expert GPs.