The start of a new year is known as “diet season” — a time when every new program, dose or supplement is whipped up as a way to undo the damage done by several weeks of overeating this holiday season. Inevitably, these extreme regimes come and go, and we return fairly quickly to our usual eating habits and lifestyle. Instead, why not make several small, sustainable swaps that will have a huge impact on your overall nutrient intake, slip so easily into your daily life, and hardly notice that you’ve made any changes at all?
Get serious about your daily bread
The type of bread you choose can make a huge difference in your nutritional intake. For example, large, thick slices of white bread add loads of refined carbohydrates to your diet, and flatbreads such as Turkish and Lebanese bread can contain 3-4 times as many carbs as traditional sandwich slices. Switching to thin, small, or even low-carb whole-grain-based breads can reduce the amount of calories you eat and increase the fiber and mineral content of your diet.
Check the box for good fats in breakfast
Including 3-4 servings of good fats in your diet each day – such as oily fish, avocados, nuts, seeds and extra virgin olive oil – ensures that you get optimal amounts of these important fats for metabolism, and including them at every meal helps with feelings of fullness. For example, at breakfast, adding an avo to toast or juice or a tablespoon of nuts or seeds to your cereal, yogurt, or smoothie will help tick the box each day.
Know your smart spread
You might routinely reach for butter, cholesterol-lowering margarine, a little mayonnaise, or pesto to dress your favorite toast, wrap, or sandwich, but nutritionally, these foods are high in fat and calories and can add a lot of refined vegetable oil. to the diet. Lighter and more flavorful options include the growing range of vegetable sauces made with a base of cucumber or beetroot, or try hummus or mashed avocado.
Adam Liaw’s Pepper Roasted Carrots (no peeling required!) are served on a bed of yogurt (recipe here). Photo: William Mebem
Season vegetables and salads the healthy way
When vegetables and salads taste good, we eat more of them, and the good news is that you can dress up your vegetables and salad without feeling guilty. For salads, try balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar to control flavor and blood glucose. Meanwhile, stewed vegetables are delicious with a little Greek-style yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, or homemade cheese dressing.
Feed your gut
Digestive health affects our overall health and well-being in many ways. Rather than supplements or powders, good digestive health is more about the ways we nourish our digestive system on a daily basis. In terms of food, a daily serving of yogurt, kefir, miso or fermented vegetables will support long-term digestive health.
Leave the skin
Whether it’s on your favorite fruit—think apple, pear, or even a kiwifruit (yes, really!)—or vegetables like potatoes, zucchini, and carrots, leaving the skin on means more dietary fiber and nutrients.
Be smart with seafood
All seafood offers protein and essential nutrients including omega-3s, but before you reach for another can of tuna, it may be important to know that some relatively inexpensive seafood options including canned salmon and shellfish such as oysters and mussels are among the most Rich in nutrients. Canned salmon and sardines, especially when eaten with the bones, are full of omega-3 fatty acids and are non-dairy sources of calcium, while mussels and oysters are rich in iron and zinc.
It’s juice time
Fruit-based juices are a concentrated source of sugars — sugars that few of us need — but there are plenty of benefits associated with adding a plant-based juice to your daily diet instead. Smoothies made with 100 percent vegetables add concentrated nutrients, including beta-carotene and a number of powerful antioxidants. The key is to find a palatable mix, but including brightly colored vegetables like beetroot, carrots, and spinach is a good start.
Susie Burrell is a registered dietitian and registered dietitian with a master’s degree in exercise psychology.