5 Stress-free Nutrition Tips to Start you on the Path Towards a Healthier Diet!

Dr. Melissa Glover Nutrition

“What should I eat?!”

This is a question I probably ask every day, and I know you probably do too! Recently this question comes up for me because I’m indecisive… like when I can’t choose where to order take-out during final exams, or what to make for dinner, or what to put in my morning smoothie.

 However, I think most health-minded people ask the age old question “what should I eat?” hoping to find a flashing sign telling them what foods are best and exactly how to make smart dietary choices. There is so much information on the internet about nutrition it can be incredibly difficult to sort through and decide what to focus on. There is new information coming out every day, and there is always a fad nutrient or trendy diet.

Unfortunately, there is no one answer that will work for everyone… nutrition is not one size fits all. Some people rave that paleo is the best. Others argue that vegan is where its at, and some suggest eliminating specific food groups. All of these diets are 100% valid, and may be the best choice for some people. But with nutrition, like most things health-related, there is no clear-cut answer. It’s important to remember that everyone has different food sensitivities, preferences, and restrictions and these all play a key role in individual diet planning. 

Throughout my undergraduate degree and the past few years at Naturopathic Medical school I have known that there has to be a way to simplify nutrition. By working on my own diet a lot, I’ve found that small changes can make a big difference! I’ve found that making one change at a time is a much more manageable and enjoyable approach to gradually improve diet. No overhauls. No crash diets. Just simple stress-free changes.

I’m giving you 5 stress-free tips you can take with you to start slowly making positive changes to your diet. These tips don’t encompass every aspect of a balanced diet, but individually they are little steps that can make a big difference! Feel free to use them as inspiration to take a step towards your own healthful, nutritious diet. 

 

1. Everything in moderation. Balance is key.

  • This is the most important rule. Be gentle with yourself, you don't have to be perfect.
  • Taking away the guilt makes all of these changes a lot more enjoyable and sustainable for the long haul.
  • I use the 80%, 20% rule:
  • 80% (or more) of the time eat a healthy, whole foods diet.
    • 80% (or more) of the time eat a healthy, whole foods diet.
    • 20% (or less) of the time let your rules slide a little – sometimes it's a special occasion, sometimes you might be too busy to prepare your meals at home, sometimes you just might want to treat yourself… and that's okay!

 

2. Avoid refined sugar.

  • This is worthy of a whole other post, but a quick google search for the negative effects of added sugar will give you a pretty good idea of why I like to avoid it. Sugar is toxic.
  • Refined sugar is hidden in most processed foods, so to avoid sugar I avoid processed food.
  • To avoid processed food, I generally don't eat things out of packages, and avoid the middle aisles of the grocery store (see #1).
  • Focusing your grocery shopping on the outer edges of the store is a great way to limit the sugar coming into your home and shift towards a more whole foods diet.

 

3. Fat is a friend.

  • There are lots of high quality, healthy fats!
  • Don’t be afraid of fat. And as weird as this sounds … fat doesn't make you fat! It actually makes you feel full faster and longer! Only if you’re choosing the right fats that is...
  • I aim to get one serving healthy fat in at every meal, while avoiding trans fats, excess animal fat, and most saturated fat.
  • This can be difficult at first, but swapping out bad fats for better fats is a great place to start! For example, I switched to plant based oils (olive, coconut etc.) from butter for cooking.
  • Examples of nutrient dense healthy fats include avocado, nuts and seeds, eggs, fish, legumes and olives!

 

4. Leafy greens for days.

  • Leafy greens are some of the most nutrient dense foods easily available! Eating greens is almost like having a multivitamin at every meal.
  • My favorites green leafys are organic spinach, kale, Swiss chard, arugula and watercress!
  • Most of these vegetables contain chlorophyll, beta-carotene (vitamin A), vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin B9 (Folate), calcium, iron, and fibre.
  • Its important to wash these vegetables thoroughly before eating, and enjoy them with a little bit of healthy fat or oil (see #3) to aid absorption of nutrients. Check out my favourite basic salad dressing recipe, which includes raw apple cider vinegar!

 

5. Eat organic & local whenever possible.

  • Ideally I would love to eat organic and local 100% of the time, but realistically it is just not feasible on a student budget.
  • I like to focus my produce shopping around the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15. The EWG comes out with an annual list of the top 12 foods with the most pesticide use, and the 15 foods with the least pesticide use. I suggest always buying the dirty dozen organic!
  • I love eating local, and supporting local farmers! Find a farmer’s market near you and support your local community. If you are in BC click here for a comprehensive list of the farmer’s markets near you!

 

My hope is that these 5 tips have inspired you to make a positive change to your diet and to help you find what is going to work best for you! Remember, it doesn't have to be difficult. 

Now, you can even try making your own healthy nutrition rules. Choose one little aspect of your diet to improve over the next week or month and focus on that. Once you’ve mastered it, you can add another! Hopefully, these tools will help to improve your diet and reach your health goals!!