I was recently talking to a patient about breakfast and we bonded over our mutual love of smoothies. She told me that she made the same smoothie every single day: frozen berries, spinach, flax seed, protein powder and some almond milk. While all of the ingredients in her smoothie are nutritious, I encouraged her to try changing it up. Why? We tend to be creatures of habit. We find things that we like and stick to them, especially when it comes to food. It might be quick and easy to stick to the foods we know and love, but by eating the same food everyday we might actually be losing out on some important nutrients. Read on to find out why changing up your diet is key!
Why Should We Change Things Up?
There are two main reasons why we should vary the foods we eat. Firstly, different foods contain different vitamins and nutrients. Eating different vegetables, fruits, grains and types of protein will help ensure that you are consuming all of the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. For example, spinach contains more magnesium and fibre than kale, but kale contains more Vitamin C and Vitamin K. Alternating between kale and spinach as your salad base will make sure you get the best of both worlds.
The second reason may shock you, but constantly eating the same foods can potentially cause food sensitivities. How is this possible? A large number of people suffer from something called leaky gut syndrome (If you are interested I talk about gut health in this webinar). Improper diet choices, heightened stress levels and toxic overload have had detrimental effects on our digestive systems; leading to intestinal permeability issues.
What does that mean? Intestinal permeability happens when our guts are unable to properly control what passes through the lining of the small intestine and substances are leaked into the bloodstream. In the case of food sensitivity, a small immune reaction occurs when food particles seep out of the intestine and are viewed by the body as foreign substances. The body will mount an immune reaction to ‘fight’ the ‘foreign’ particle of food just like if it was a invader like a virus or a bacteria.
Whether you have food sensitivities or not, varying the things you eat has many benefits:
• It can prevent food addictions and allergies
• It provides a variety of fresh, nutrient-rich, unprocessed foods
• It can prevent mineral or vitamin deficiencies – ie magnesium, zinc, etc…
• It can prevent, and sometimes correct, digestive problems
Have you heard of the Rotation Diet?
If you have digestive issues or other inexplicable symptoms, I highly recommend taking a Food Sensitivity test. Those with leaky gut syndrome and food sensitivities are often suggested to try a rotation diet. A rotation diet involves eliminating the high reaction food you are sensitive to for 4 weeks to 12 weeks (depending of the severity of the sensitivity and the status of the gut) and then slowly reintegrating the food back into your diet 1 on 1 to see if it has any negative effects. If side effects persist, the food should be eliminated for another 4 weeks, and so on. Foods showing low reaction should only be consumed once every four days. Meaning if you have a low reaction to eggs, you should only be eating them once in a four day span. The purpose of the diet is to reboot your digestive system so you no longer experience sensitivities and digestive issues.
Even if you don’t suffer from digestive issues, try to vary your food as much as possible. Doing so can help prevent future digestive problems and ensure you are getting the most out of what you eat.
Easy Ways to Change Your Food Up
1) Don’t reinvent the wheel. While changing things up may sounds scary, you don’t have to stray too far from what you already know. You can still have your daily smoothie and salad, just swap out your ingredients. Salmon and spinach salad one day? Try kale and chicken the next. For smoothies there are a ton of ingredients you can try. Here are some of the ingredients I use interchangeably, mix and match every day for a delicious and nutritious smoothie:
Organic Fruits: Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, Banana , Avocado and Pineapple
Organic Vegetables: Spinach, Kale, Collard Greens, Cucumber, Carrot, Celery, Ginger Root, and Turmeric Root
Organic Seeds: Flax, Chia, and Hemp
Organic Nuts: Almond Butter, Peanut or Cashew Butter, and Coconut Oil
2) Plan Ahead. The easiest way to make sure you are eating a diverse diet is to think ahead. Figure out what meals you are going to make before heading to the store. Write down a menu for the week to ensure you aren’t stuck eating the same thing over and over again. It’s ok to have some repeats but try to ensure that the majority of your meals change from day to day. Browse Pinterest or Google for recipe ideas –there are thousands out there. There is no reason to be eating the same thing day after day.
3) Shop the Rainbow. Nature has found a smart way to draw attention to the nutrients in food: different colours represent different nutrients. For instance, the anthocyanins that turn blueberries blue also keep your mind sharp, the lycopene that turns tomatoes red also helps protect against certain cancers, and the beta carotene that makes carrots orange helps keep your vision strong. When it comes to changing things up, the more colour the better. By making a point to fill your cart with all the colours of the rainbow you are ensuring you get the most nutrients possible. And it looks pretty too!
4) Try Different Stores. Most of us have a favourite grocery store, one we prefer over the others. We know where everything is –we’re in, we’re out–it’s great. However, different grocery stores carry different things; meaning switching up your grocery store every now and again can help finding different food easier. Try visiting natural food stores as well–they are likely to have a ton of healthy items you aren’t used to seeing elsewhere.
Have fun with changing things up and let me know if you have any suggestions in the comments below.
Until next time,