Variety is truly the spice of life!
The importance of a varied diet which sees you quite simply enjoy a wide diversity of food (and that includes herbs and spices) can't be overstated. Simple... but true! Let's choose to eat from a wide variety of sources each day; diets that exclude one or more food groups tend to be associated with an increased risk of some chronic disease and seemingly a premature end to ... well, us. Boo!!!
Eating from a variety of food groups each day is highly likely to result in a diet that provides ample amounts of a larger range of the nutrients essential for good health. Although, it's not necessary to eat from each food group at every meal.
Foods within the same food group contain different nutrients, so it's helpful to lap up a variety of foods within each group. For example, strawberries are rich in vitamin C, whereas bananas are rich in a number of B-group vitamins. Therefore, eating a wide variety of foods goes a long way to help you get the largest possible range of nutrients from your diet for health and wellbeing.
And, keep in mind that few foods these days are guaranteed to be entirely free of substances that, in excess, could be harmful to the body. For example, strawberries might contain a specific contaminant and bananas another, therefore alternating fruit choices will reduce the risk of ingesting too much of one particular contaminant.
Wholesomeness: enjoy the whole food not the reduced parts
Yep, enjoy foods that look like their originating source, at least where relevant. Stock your pantry with food that is made from whole ingredients. For example, wholegrain bread contains the goodness of the entire grain, rather than the highly processed flour that is used to make white bread. A good diet should rely primarily on food that is wholesome and remains as similar as possible to its original state. You're more likely to have a diet that's rich in important nutrients and compounds such as antioxidants, and reduce possible contamination from nasties such as food preservatives, colours and flavours.
It's true that some 'processed' foods have just as much (and in some cases more) nutrition than some 'fresh' foods, but let's be honest, that's more an indictment of food production than it is of fresh food itself. An ideal diet should not rely heavily (there is is, a bit of flexibility) on processed food such as tinned, frozen, pre-prepared food, fast food, reheated food and so on.
A bit of a cliche, but true, we are all different! So why on earth would we all eat the same? Our nutritional needs are dependent on a range of interacting factors such as our genetics, environment, social interactions, psychological needs, and other lifestyle factors including physical activity. it makes sense to eat to suit our needs. Our physiology, health, finances, resources, location, age, and lifestyle will all influence the 'why', 'what', 'when' of our eating.
The concept of a one-size-fits-all diet is really... well not a nutritional truth. Now we may be getting a little 'techy' here and that's not our intention, so suffice to say that you should eat to suit you, not a generic personal view or fad that's doing the rounds.
Make it dynamic; life is not static
Life is ever changing, our bodies change every second of every day, why would we expect that we can eat the same way week in week out? Our eating habits should be dynamic and adjust to the ebb and flow of our life. Enjoy your meals, food, and cooking. Share and have fun with it, change it up, experiment a bit, as you grow, grow your eating. Most diets will sit well with some people for a while and we can often get something from any change in our way of eating, it might be from just being exposed to other foods or from different ways of eating foods we love. In the end, most 'diets' tend to fail us and leave us feeling disappointed, sometimes with ourselves. Perhaps it’s better not to go there….
Love your life, enjoy your food and have fun with both!
Words by: Leanne Cooper
We all have a role to play in community health, the only question is how do we play this role? Through intelligent, evidence-based inquiry we can understand how to health coach to support others in taking on positive behaviour change.