1. Eat more fruits and vegetables every day
Fruits and vegetables are packed with the fuel your body needs to keep you healthy. You want to eat fruits and vegetables in their natural form because the rawer they are, the more nutrients you get. Proponents of the raw food diet believe that you lose 70-80% of nutrients when you cook fruits and veggies.
There is a simple test you can do as you’re cooking them—watch the color. The more colorless they get, the more nutrients that are being lost.
To add fruits and vegetables to your diet, try these ideas:
- Add veggies to eggs and omelets, like tomatoes, peppers, spinach, carrots, and onions
- Add fresh fruit to plain yogurt, or atop cereals and oatmeal
- Have a glass of tomato, vegetable, or fruit juice with breakfast
- Have fruit on the side with toast
- Start lunch with a side salad, or have a larger salad at lunch
- Add a snack to lunch, like a piece of fruit, or baby carrots or celery
- Add vegetables to your sandwiches like cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, bib lettuce, and more
- Instead of candy for a snack, reach for orange slices, strawberries, blueberries, etc.
- Instead of sandwiches, opt for hearty soups filled with vegetables
2. Eat fresh meats and fish
This doesn’t mean grabbing a drive-thru burger either! In fact, did you know that the leading fast food hamburger patty is allowed to use a percentage of sawdust as filler? As a human being, would you say your diet was meant to include sawdust? Of course not!
Don’t be scared away from meat by worries over whether it’s too fat or not. Your body actually needs a certain amount of fat intake to function properly. It’s just not good to go to the extreme and consume nothing but fatty meats. Eat meats in moderation and change up your diet regularly, and you will get the proper ratio of what you need, including healthy fats.
Be careful in preparing meats. Charring meat actually creates carcinogens that you then consume. A good restaurant will sear the outside of meat to give it some color, but then they finish it off in the oven, which cooks the inside.
Make sure to add fish to your diet. Fish have fatty acids that our bodies use, along with minerals. Go for fish that hasn’t been breaded and deep-fried. Today, you can find wonderful salmon, tuna, mahi mahi, trout, arctic char, and others in grocery stores and restaurants.
3. Eat whole grains, not refined grains
Processed foods use a lot of white flour, because it allows for longer shelf life, and it can give baked goods a softer feel to them. Some of the products you find it in include breakfast cereal, breads, cakes, pastries, and crackers. Unfortunately, the process used to make white flour effectively removes the nutrients. In fact, its snowy white color comes from the fact that it’s been bleached. It’s also the reason certain breads can look so nice and white. Eye appealing? Maybe. Good for you? Not really.
Whole grains instead will help you get the nutrients you need. These include brown rice, wheat, rye, oats, barley, and products made from them.
4. Eat more legumes
These are beans and seeds that are packed with protein, vitamins, fiber, and essential minerals, like copper, zinc, and iron. This group includes chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, soybeans, green beans, and peas.
Lentils are a great choice for vegetarians, since they contain most of the minerals you’d normally derive from eating meat and poultry. Plus, they are cheap to buy, and are low in saturated fats, cholesterol, and calories. Like your mother said… eat your peas!
5. Eat with variety:
What’s that mean? Shake up your diet! Don’t eat the same things all the time. Mix it up whenever possible. This will ensure that your body is getting a steady flow of all different types of nutrients. It will also keep you from getting bored with your diet. Don’t be afraid to try new foods, either. You may be surprised at some foods you never thought of eating before in terms of flavors and how good they make you feel. Be adventurous!