Let me start out right off the bat by saying that I am far from a nutrition expert, but I felt it important that I add a post about nutrition to this site because of the regularity with which I post about cooking at home. I’m also going to be the last person to preach about how you have to have the universal perfect diet – there is no such thing as the perfect diet for everyone.
Instead, I’m more interested in little changes, much like I am with my finances. Here are a few lists of things that you can do to improve your nutrition, health, and overall well being. Obviously, talk to your doctor before undergoing any major lifestyle changes, but it doesn’t hurt anyone (unless you have an allergy or offsetting condition) to do almost anything on this list.
Five Signs You Might Want To Improve Your Diet
These things don’t indicate that you might be dying, but they are uncomfortable, and they are signs that you might want to make dietary changes. Your body is constantly giving you clues – pay attention.
1. Your bowel movements aren’t regular or smooth. If it’s hard to have a bowel movement, or you don’t have one on a very regular basis, there’s probably something not quite right with your diet.
2. You’re tired or not alert a lot. Tiredness can be the result of many things, but one thing that often causes it is a poor or unbalanced diet. You’re not malnourished, but something isn’t quite right. Eating well for a few days can help pretty much anyone.
3. Urination isn’t clear and sometimes burns a little. You’re dehydrated, period. Drink more water. I’d say drink at least two liters (64 ounces) a day until it’s clear again.
4. You get insomnia regularly, or oversleep regularly. While this may be caused by many things (stress is a big one), your diet plays a role here, too.
5. A general feeling of depression or malaise. Not necessarily tired, but an outlook of sadness and negativity. While this also can be the sign of a deeper problem, I found that a better diet has helped me regularly with such feelings.
Seven Things I Eat/Drink Every Day
This is basically a distillation of the better parts of every diet out there. I’ve been doing this every day for several years now and I feel fantastic and alert most of the time. If you asked me to set up a diet for you, all I would say is “eat everything on this list every day and then on top of that whatever else you want – just eat everything here every day.” You’re way better off just covering the basics in a fashion that you can maintain than tackling a radical diet for three days then downing a whole Sara Lee poundcake in a fury of hunger and guilt.
1. At least eight 8 ounce glasses of water (or about two liters of water) I drink these throughout the day; I used to drink a lot of soda, but now I replace them with this.
2. Eat some sort of breakfast. A Nutri-Grain bar on your way to work will take care of it and also knock off the next element. I often eat oatmeal for breakfast. You need something to get your body’s digestive processes running early in the morning and get our natural energy flow going.
3. Some sort of whole grain. A sandwich with whole grain bread in it, a bowl of oatmeal, a whole grain cereal bar – some sort of item that has whole grain in it.
4. Two fruit + vegetable smoothies. I go through V8 Fusion like there’s no tomorrow. If you’d rather eat the real thing instead, do it by all means; smoothies just allow me to mix it up a bit and they’re convenient for gulping whenever.
5. A vegetable snack outside of a meal. Baby carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, or something like that. Buy some of this at the store and bag it into small snack sized baggies. Eat one as a snack sometime during the day.
6. A fruit snack outside of a meal. Eat a banana, an apple, an orange, or any other fruit of your choosing. I usually eat these in the mid-afternoon when I’m feeling a bit in the energy doldrums.
7. Something with lots of protein in it. For me, this is usually a vanilla chai protein shake, but most meats have a good amount of protein in them, as do nuts and legumes. Eat some unsalted peanuts to knock this one out, or maybe a roast beef sandwich on whole grain bread to knock out this one and #3.
One final thing, get a bit of exercise when you can, even if it’s just walking up the stairs at work instead of taking the elevator. Every bit of exercise helps.