The Importance of Varying Your Diet
We all remember learning the food pyramid in school, grains on the bottom and sugars on top. From an early age, we’re taught the importance of eating many different types of foods. For those of us who were picky eaters growing up, it wasn’t a lesson we really stuck to. But we’re adults now, and picky is no longer an excuse – there’s something in every food group we can learn to like and incorporate into our diet, and yet we still have trouble varying it. That means more than getting a bit of each food group in each day, but also changing which foods from each group from day to day. Blueberries are good for you, but if they’re the only fruit you’re eating every single day, that’s not healthy variation.
Why Diet Variation is Important
If you buy a lot of different raffle tickets, you have a better chance of winning the prize. Having one hundred raffle tickets won’t do anything for you if they’re identical.
Diet variation works in a similar way – by eating a lot of different foods, you’re going to get a wider variety of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that keep you healthy and prevent disease. But if you just eat the same foods over and over again, day after day, you’re going to wind up with too much of one nutrient and not nearly enough of another. If it sounds like common sense, that’s because it is – and yet while we know the importance of eating many different types of foods, we all still struggle to do it.
Whole grains like pasta and rice give us energy and are high in fiber. Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals, dairy is high in calcium, and proteins like fish and beans are necessary to repair damaged cells in the body. No food group is unimportant – they all have a role to play in your overall health.
Varying your diet to include different fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and lean meats can improve your quality of life and longevity of life. A balanced diet boosts your immune system, helping you avoid disease, and helps you maintain a healthy weight, avoiding health problems related to obesity such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
How to Vary Your Diet
Including whole grains, vegetables, fruit, meat and dairy in your daily meals sounds like an easy thing to do, but think about what you ate yesterday. Did you hit all five? If you’re not, it could just be a simple matter of substitution.
While grains are an important part of a healthy diet that is high in fiber, eating too many carbohydrate based foods is a common problem. If your problem is too many carbs, consider substituting pasta with zucchini or squash noodles, sandwich bread with a lettuce wrap, or rice with quinoa.
You can practice healthy variation in the choices you make every day. Choosing the fruit cup over the fries, whole grain over white bread, a kiwi over a bag of chips. A good way to improve variation in your diet is to keep a food journal – jot down what you eat each day for a week, and then look back and see what you’re missing. You might realize you’ve been skimping on protein, or eating too many sugars.
How Supplements Can Help
Along with eating many different types of foods, supplements can help provide the nutrients of a varied diet. It’s difficult to keep track of exactly what you eat and how much you eat, but taking supplements can ensure that you’re getting enough vital nutrients so you don’t have to worry. Dietary supplements are especially helpful if you have allergies to certain foods, or are avoiding certain foods, such as red meats and whole grains, as part of a diet.
Diet variation requires meal prep and planning, which you won’t always have time for. Sometimes all you have time for is a quick snack that isn’t nutrient dense, which is where supplements can be a helpful safety net.
Start Varying Your Diet for a Healthier Life
As they say, the best cure is prevention, and eating right is the most effective way to prevent illness and improve your health. Whether you get your nutrients from the foods you eat, the supplements you take, or a combination of both, you’re arming your body with defenses against disease and obesity. Knowing the importance of eating many different types of foods is just the first step – changing your habits to add variety to your meals can be challenging, but knowing what’s at stake for your health, along with the help of dietary supplements, can help you get there.