People choose to adjust their diets for a number of reasons. Your doctor might recommend going on a specific diet to help offset the symptoms of medical conditions such as diabetes or chronic inflammation. Popular culture often depicts diets geared toward weight loss and body transformations. However, there can often be a stigma and feelings of failure associated with these if you donít see results right away.
Instead of focusing on specific results like weight loss or effects related to medical conditions, letís explore how you can design a diet that simply makes you feel good, considering both your body and mind.
Pay Attention to Your Body
One of the most impactful things you can do in order to identify and maintain a diet that makes you feel good is to pay attention to your bodyís reactions to different foods. If you have a negative reaction after a meal itís important to try and understand why. Perhaps there was a particular ingredient that you have trouble digesting.
Even if you donít have an full-blown food allergy, you may have food intolerances which cause you to be hypersensitive to certain ingredients. Common intolerances involve dairy products, grains that contain gluten, and foods that may cause excessive gas buildup such as cabbage and beans.
It may be helpful to keep a food journal describing your reactions to certain meals. This can allow you to track and identify the exact ingredients that may be causing digestive issues such as bloating, spasms, diarrhea, gas, stomach aches, and other symptoms. Some foods may also cause non-digestive issues, such as headaches, migraines, coughing, runny nose, or hives. If you experience serious symptoms, it may be a good idea to speak with your doctor.
An elimination diet can also help you to identify which foods you may be allergic or intolerant to. Elimination diets involve removing foods and ingredients you suspect may be causing digestive issues and re-introducing them one by one later on, usually after about two to three weeks.
Sometimes it can be difficult to adjust to avoiding certain ingredients. Giving up foods you enjoy can be outright tragic. However, in time, you may find your quality of life improves drastically when you arenít suffering from digestive issues as often.
It can also be a challenge to avoid problematic foods that might be hiding in a long list of ingredients. This requires some due diligence when shopping, ordering food in restaurants, and deciding how youíll fill your plate at social functions like potlucks where you wonít typically have the convenience of a clearly defined list of ingredients.
Find Balance in Your Diet
People often go to extremes when adjusting their diets, often in order to achieve particular goals such as weight loss or detoxification. For example, getting all of your nutrition from fruit and vegetable juices, cutting out carbs altogether, or increasing your fat intake in order to send your body into a state of ketosis may be effective in achieving particular results.
Itís worth noting that in some cases going to extremes with your diet could cause its own health problems, and it might be a good idea to work with your doctor or a professional nutritionist to identify a diet that would be beneficial in helping you meet health goals.
In general, to get proper nutrition from your diet and feel better, you should aim to eat a moderate portion of foods from each of the five main food groups. This includes the following:
Whole grains such as pasta, cereals, and wholemeal bread.
Fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Protein from meats, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, and soy is vital for repairing tissues in your body. Many of these also contain essential minerals like iron, magnesium, and zinc.
Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese provide the calcium needed to promote healthy bones and teeth.
Fats are important for brain health, overall energy, absorption of certain vitamins, as well as skin, hair, and joint health.
The final food group in this list might seem surprising. With obesity rates on the rise around the world, you may be convinced that all fatty foods are inherently bad for you. However, this is simply not the case, and a balance of healthy fats is actually key to a maintaining a proper diet. While saturated fats present in fatty meats and fried foods can lead to obesity and heart disease, a moderate amount of unsaturated fats like those present in avocados and oily fish can actually help reduce the bad cholesterol in your blood.
Depending on your age, gender, and activity levels, you will likely need different amounts of food. Unfortunately, there is no exact universal amount of food to reference when adjusting your diet and portion sizes. Again, it may be helpful to work with a professional nutritionist in order to identify your specific dietary needs.
Avoiding processed food can also help ensure youíre getting nutrient-rich, energizing foods with healthy ingredients. While it may be easier to reach for a bag of potato chips rather than an apple, if you can find the willpower to choose nutritious snacks, you will have a healthier body and more energy, which can boost your mood.
Of course, as your diet improves, you may notice changes in your appearance as well. A balanced diet will help ensure that your hair, skin, nails, and teeth have the nutrients they need to be healthy and youthful. Cutting back on some unhealthy foods can also help you to lose a natural amount of weight or body fat in addition to feeling better. Without changing the overall motivations for your diet, appreciating these changes and taking care in how you groom yourself can also improve your mood.
Adjusting your motivations and expectations related to dieting could be the doorway you need to design a healthy diet you can actually commit to. If you arenít obsessed with results related to your weight or body size, you may be able to appreciate the benefits of following a proper nutritional plan. By paying attention to the signals your body gives you and striving to get your nutrition through a balanced diet, you can live a healthier and happier life.