Many of us think we have a healthy diet. But when we look closer, even if we do try to eat healthy, our diets may not be as nutrient-dense as we thought. Even the healthy foods that are readily available may not have as much nutrient value as we are led to believe.
Dismissing the lack of nutrients in our diets as not being a problem is damaging to our health and wellbeing as individuals and as a culture. According to Euro Stat 51.6 % of the EU’s population is overweight. The highest proportions of women who were obese were recorded in Malta (23.9 %) and the United Kingdom coming in at 20.4 %. (http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Overweight_and_obesity_-_BMI_statistics)
So why does this happen? Beyond just the obvious factors of junk food and overeating, there are still dangers.
Varying our diet gets tricky with our busy schedules, so we eat the same things over and over. It’s not bad to eat a banana or spinach every day but you need to consume a variety of foods to ensure you’re getting a range of vitamins, not overdosing on just the one vitamin.
High yield farming has led to fruits and vegetables containing less nutrients than ever before. As we streamline farming and production we are actually making foods offer less of what we need. (reference http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/44/1/15.short )
Although we like to think that we are eating healthy the majority of the time, it is apparent statistically that we simply are not. Eating one “healthy” meal a day doesn’t make you “healthy”, especially if that meal is eaten out and not cooked with fresh, natural ingredients in front of your very own eyes! These unhealthy eating patterns are due to low intakes of food groups such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains—that contain nutrients like vitamins A, C, D and E, calcium and magnesium.
It’s easy to slip up and take a little treat and not track how much of the bad stuff we are really consuming. Junk food consumption is often something we blind ourselves to because we don’t accept that we are doing it or speak about it. This hidden and denied consumption is another reason for why your body may not be getting all the essential nutrient is needs (vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients etc.) and too much of what it doesn’t need.
Despite these factors, this is not an insurmountable problem. You do have the ability to control your diet so you are really giving your body all that it needs. Here are my tips:
By fresh I mean, not from jars, cans or bags. Make your own curry sauce from tomatoes, curry powder, turmeric etc, do not buy sauces already in the jars as they lack all the nutritional benefits you get from spices and herbs. Fresh food has more nutrients and best of all you are in full control of everything going into your body.
The more you switch up the fruits and vegetable you consume, the more vitamins and minerals your body will benefit from. If you are in a slump look up some new recipes and try to find ones that include fresh foods you don’t usually eat.
Perhaps you have some garden space—growing your own chillies, parsley, basil, tomatoes, strawberries etc. can be an exciting project as well as make you appreciate the foods you eat. Nothing tastes better than something you grow because you really understand everything that went into that ingredient. This also helps avoid the nutrients in your food being diluted by high-yield farming. Not to mention that nothing fresher than fresh picked!
Naturally, consuming vitamins and minerals from foods is the best way. However, if you do lack parts of a healthy diet, taking a multivitamin is a good way to ensure you get the vitamins and minerals you may otherwise miss out on. Depriving your body is never a better way to go.
Food should be enjoyed, but it’s also meant to nourish your body. Many of us have taken that step to try and create a healthy lifestyle. Taking one step further to really ensure that your diet doesn’t just seem healthy but really is healthy is a great gift to give yourself.