This month is National Nutrition Month, and the theme for this year is ‘Celebrate a World of Flavour’. The goal is to showcase all the amazing flavours from all around the world.
Consuming a balanced, diverse diet is the key to good health. This basically means eating a wide range of different foods and cuisines. It does NOT mean choosing a different takeaway option regularly, or not sticking to the same flavoured crisps. It means eating a wide variety of minimally processed foods that are nutrient rich.
So, fruit & veg, nuts & seeds, grains (wheat, oats, quinoa, couscous, risotto, etc), oils (olive oil, rapeseed oil, corn oil etc). Also, different meat, fish, shellfish and poultry that aren’t highly processed, dairy and herbs & spices all make up a balanced, diverse diet.
Unfortunately, a lot of people tend to stick to what they know, and this means they are missing out big time when not comes to all the amazing cuisines the world has to offer.
Reasons A Person Might Not Consume A Diverse Diet
There are different reasons a person might not have a very diverse diet. These include but are not limited to.
- Finances can affect where you get your food from and how much of it. Especially if you are trying to feed your family with young kids, you don’t want to waste money on new foods that they may or may not eat.
- Where you live. You may not have access to a wide variety of food.
- The type of diet you were brought up on can contribute to your preferences, dislikes, and reluctance to try new foods
- Feeling you don’t have to skills required to cook with different ingredients
- Medical reasons such as having a lot of intolerances, food allergies, illnesses that effect your digestive system and eating disorders
Why Is It So Important To Diversify Your Diet?
- A diverse diet is essential for a healthy Gut microbiome. We are now realising how important a healthy Gut is for overall health and wellbeing. Our Gut effects so many things, not just our digestive health. It effects our immune health, mental health, weight, sleep, and cognitive function. Your Gut is like your second brain so it’s so important to look after it and give it everything it needs to stay healthy. You Gut microbiome contains trillions of different types of bacteria and they need a diverse diet to function optimally. People who consume a diverse diet tend to have beater overall health than those who do not.
- A diverse diet lowers your risk of developing nutritional deficiencies. By eating a wide variety of different foods, you are more likely to achieve your nutritional needs from you diet alone and you shouldn’t need to take 50 different supplements! Food will always be the safest way to get your nutrients so unless you’ve been otherwise advised by a healthcare professional (a doctor or a Dietitian /qualified Nutritionist) you shouldn’t need to supplement.
- A diverse diet reduces your risk of developing chronic illnesses. Like I mentioned above, this doesn’t apply if you’re eating a lot of different types of high salt, sugar, and saturated fat foods and not a lot of plant based, minimally processed foods.
- Reduces oxidative stress which lead to premature aging and can also lead to the development of chronic illnesses. If you eat a wide variety of plant foods, your diet will be packed full of antioxidant. These antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress.
- If you choose to eat foods in season it will help you diversify your diet while consuming produce at its peak quality and flavour. It means the meals you make in winter will contain foods that are in season during the winter month. Same with spring, summer, and autumn. This can also help you save money!
How You Can Diversify Your Diet
- Eat the rainbow! Each colour of fruit or vegetable has a different health benefit, so eating all the colours of the rainbow will not only make you food look more appealing, but it will also help you get loads of important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants into your diet.
- Try new recipes. Don’t stick to the same meal ideas, branch out! Maybe get a cookbook and pick a new recipe at random to try every week or so. There are also so many simple recipes online, why not check out some recipes here. Especially try recipes from different cultures.
- Try new foods regularly. Even if you tried it as a child and didn’t like it your taste buds change as you grow up. Give it another go; you might be surprised. Also remember that you need to try a food at least three times before you can decide whether you like it.
- Experiment more in the kitchen, especially with herbs and spices. Not every combination is going to work, but you might come across a few winners along the way!
- Try not to order the same dish every time you go out for a meal. Sure, if a particular restaurant does nice chicken goujons then get them, but don’t order chicken goujons in every restaurant just because you’re nervous about trying something new.
You can learn more about National Nutrition Month 2022 and other ways to diversify your diet here.