We can all get ‘stuck in a rut’ with our diet at times. Maybe you have run out of ideas as to what to eat or get confused as to what’s good and what’s not. Or perhaps you are struggling to get your normal food items during the current situation.
This may be the time to try some new foods or mix it up and try some different meal ideas and recipes.
Clinical nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her five top tips for overhauling your diet for maximum health benefits.
Add some mood-boosting foods
During these rather glum times with everyone feeling low in mood, give yourself a turbo-charge with these foods to help put a smile on your face. First-up is salmon; oily fish is loaded with mood-boosting omega-3 fats. Plus, it’s so easy to cook. The simplest way is baked in the oven with some lemon juice and chopped chives or tarragon.
Bananas are high in vitamin B6, needed to produce brain neurotransmitters. Why not added some chopped bananas to your morning cereal or porridge or eat as a mid-morning snack?
Treat yourself to some dark chocolate. It contains tryptophan – an amino acid which produces our happy hormone, serotonin. There’s much research to suggest that people who eat dark chocolate suffer fewer depressive symptoms. You can officially now eat dark chocolate guilt-free!
Look after your liver
Liver health is key to feeling happy or sad; if your liver is sluggish, then you can feel ‘down in the dumps’. Vitamin C-rich foods such as grapefruit, lemons, limes and oranges are all liver-friendly.
Additionally, berry fruits and green foods such as leafy vegetables as well as green algae, including chlorella, really aid good liver detoxification. Why not whizz up a morning smoothie and throw in as much as you can, plus include some powdered chlorella and hemp protein to power-up your morning?
Eat enough protein
People often think about carbohydrates for energy, but protein is equally as important. Crucially, protein is needed for good immune-system function, especially key right now. Make sure you’re eating some protein at each meal, whether from animal or vegetable sources.
Fish, poultry, eggs, dairy, meat, offal, soya, beans, legumes ……. there’s so much choice. Plus, grains contain some protein; quinoa is especially protein rich. However, whilst pasta does contain some protein, if you’re making a dish with just a tomato-based source and nothing else, then it’s best to add some other protein source. Protein also keeps you feeling fuller for longer, so you’ll not be looking for snacks during the day.
Keep your immune system in good shape
We know protein is essential for a good immune system. However, there are other nutrients equally as important. Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin C and the mineral zinc are top of the list.
Red, yellow and orange-coloured fruits and vegetables are rich in beta-carotene which the body turns into vitamin A as needed, so carrots, sweet potatoes and peppers are your best friends right now. The most useful source of vitamin D is from sunlight, which is sadly lacking at the moment, so ensure you’re supplementing daily to keep your immune system in good shape.
Vitamin C is found in most fruits and vegetables so check your plate at every mealtime to ensure you’re eating part of a rainbow. Plus, zinc is found in seafood, whole grains, eggs and red meat so keep a check on how much you’ve got in your diet. Its advisable to be supplementing with a good multivitamin and mineral as it’s especially important to plug any nutrient gaps.
Keep it simple
Overhauling your diet doesn’t need to be over-complicated. Sometimes just taking simple steps can make a whole difference. For example, one of the best investments you can ever make is to buy a slow cooker. You can literally throw everything in at the start of your day and you’ll have a delicious meal by dinner time, with very little effort. All the nutrients are retained because it’s cooked in the same pot.
Stir-fries, one pot meals, and simple pasta meals take very little time. Try to have some frozen fruits and vegetables in the freezer – their nutrient content is great – so you’ll never be without your rainbow!
So, with a few simple dietary changes, you can really boost your energy, immunity and overall health during the coming weeks and months.
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