Functional Nutrition Blog

Focusing on gut health and Functional nutrition

4 Easy Ways to Increase Variety in the Diet

Jun 18, 2021 | Gut Health, Nutrition

Why is variety in the diet even important to begin with any WHY should you be thinking about increasing it?

Why can’t you just eat the same foods each day?  You have a system and you want to stick with it because it works!  WHY CAN’T YOU JUST DO THIS FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!?

Here is why:

Simply put, your body requires more than what the same 7-10 foods can provide. It’s truly that easy. The body is complicated and intricate and the small details that different foods offer MATTER in a big way.

Not to mention the implication that lack of variety has on your gut health.  The fiber in our food feeds the bacteria in the gut and if we eat the same types of fiber over and over, the same type of “feeding” will happen over and over.

Refer to this blog about maintaining gut health to learn more about that aspect.

Here is an incomplete list of the some of the aspects of nutrition we need to obtain from our food:

  • amino acids
  • fats
  • carbohydrates
  • fiber + resistant starch
  • water
  • vitamins (there are 14 ESSENTIAL ones – meaning we need to get them from our food)
  • minerals (also 14 of these)
  • phytochemicals (there are over 4000 currently identified)

Can you imagine needing to calculate all of these thousands of variables for every meal?  The reason you don’t have to worry about this is because there are SO MANY different foods to gather your needs from.

And this is why you need to get variety.

4 Easy Ways to Increase Variety in the Diet:

  1. Use what is in season as a guide
  2. Base choices off of color
  3. Implement Swaps
  4. Weekly rotations

What’s In Season:

Choose your produce based on what is in season for a *literally* natural guide to variety.

Use this Seasonal Food Guide to learn which foods are in season where you live!  Resolve yourself to only eating things that are truly grown in that season MOST of the time.  That way, when you just NEED to have blueberries in February, it’ll be a special treat!

Color:

I like implementing this thought when I have those days where I just CANNOT decide what to buy at the store.

Take a look at how many different colors you currently have in your cart.  Whichever colors are not represented, add them in!

Look at your week as a whole to help eliminate some of the pressure of getting so many variables in for 1 day.  If you can see multiple colors each day and all of the colors represented in a week – you’re doing a great job!

I had a colleague share a phrase that stuck with me:

the most important color to get in your diet, is the color you aren’t already getting.

Swaps:

This is my favorite trick.

You take the current framework you are working with, one that is successful for you and your lifestyle.  And then you SWAP things in and out to create hundreds of different versions of that.

For example, every day you have a salad:

Mixed greens                                SWAP FOR      arugula

tomatos                                         SWAP FOR.     peppers

cucumbers                                     SWAP FOR     carrots

cheddar cheese                            SWAP FOR      goat cheese

sunflower seeds                            SWAP FOR     pumpkin seeds

olive oil and balsamic vinegar       SWAP FOR     avocado oil and apple cider vinegar

grilled chicken                               SWAP FOR     grilled shrimp

None of these choices are better or worse.  They are simply different.

You can apply this exact same process to every single meal that you have and provide yourself hundreds of meals with amazing variety and extreme nutrition.

Weekly Rotations

I’ve been using this approach with my clients more and more recently and the feedback is excellent.

Rather than trying to plan 21 different meals for yourself for the week (plus more if you have family members who require something different), try planning the same meal every day for breakfast, a second meal for lunch, and a third meal for dinner.  As long as these 3 meals are ABSOLUTELY DIFFERENT for the weeks that follow, this approach can be extremely easy, timely, and organizing.

You’ll need to make sure you combine this method with the other 3 methods to ensure true variety.

 

I hope these 4 options for increasing variety inspire you to mix things up!  Your gut and body depend on it!

 

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