First of all, I hope you had a very Merry Christmas (for those of you who celebrate it)! If you’re like me, you probably ate some delicious and indulgent meals, maybe a few desserts and a couple of glasses of your favorite alcoholic beverage. While today may not be the best time to jump into a post-holiday detox program, it is a good time to start reflecting on how you might be able to make some of your resolutions stick this year. And, one easy yet extremely beneficial trick is to diversify your diet!
Diet Reflection Time!
I want you think stop and think about something:
In a typical week, how many different types of protein do you eat? How many different vegetables and fruits do you eat? And, how often do you switch up your healthy fats?
Take some time and really grasp what your typical weekly diet looks like.
Got it? Okay.
Now, if you’re like most people, I’m going to guess that you probably eat the same 15-20 foods almost all the time. This is your regular diet. Sure, you may be more adventurous when you eat out, but typically you stick to what’s tried and true. Am I right?
Let me tell you a little secret. I am just as bad for this as you are! I find a few easy recipes and make them over and over again because they’re familiar and mindless to prepare. Often, I cook a big batch of chili on the weekends and eat it every day for lunch for a week. And, you won’t catch me without an apple at some point in the day! I like what I like, and I’m a creature of habit.
But, are you giving your body the best nutrition when you eat like this?
Why You Shouldn’t Eat the Same Foods Over and Over
I’m sure you have your favorites, right? And, I’m not here to tell you to stop eating these foods.
However, I do want to help you understand what goes on when you do eat the same foods over and over.
If you don’t diversify your diet, you can actually make your body’s ability to digest food and detoxify bad stuff worse.
Surprised? Well, it’s true. Even if you eat the same healthy foods all the time, you might still be causing problems internally!
Digestion and Absorption
Let’s touch upon what happens to digestion when you don’t diversify your diet.
First, your body makes digestive enzymes that are like little locks that only fit into the little keys on specific foods. Eat the same foods over and over and eventually those little locks wear out (or disappear). Your body can’t break down food properly and it moves into your gut only partially digested.
Partially digested food particles feed bad bacteria, which create toxins that your liver has to neutralize. The toxins can also cause inflammation of the gut lining, which can open up little holes in the intestinal walls that allow proteins and toxins to ‘leak’ into the body.
A leaky gut is often the root cause of most food-borne allergies and inflammatory issues throughout the body.
Second, when your body can’t digest food, your body also won’t absorb the nutrients it needs. And I’m sure you can guess that this isn’t good!
If you diversify your diet, those little locks don’t get used up as fast. Other little locks are used instead, giving the others a break. When you diversify your diet, you give your little locks, or enzymes, time to build up again so your body has enough to digest foods the next time you eat them.
As I mentioned, poor digestion places an additional burden on the liver. It has to not only detoxify naturally occurring substances plus toxins found in food, but it also has to neutralize toxins caused by poor digestion!
What an interesting chain of events!
When you diversify your diet, you give your liver a break from added toxins. But, not only that, you also ensure that your liver is getting all the nutrients it needs to do all its jobs!
Recall that the liver performs over 500 different functions for the body. This means that the liver needs a wide variety of nutrients to stay healthy.
Tips to Diversify Your Diet
January is the time when people want to make lifestyle changes. This makes it the perfect time to look for new vegetables, fruits, fats and protein to add to your diet.
You can diversify your diet by simply swapping out a single ingredient with something else in the same food category.
For example, if you often eat chicken, try using turkey instead. Or, replace beef with bison or lamb. Look for alternative fish options, like swordfish (a great steak-like fish), tuna, mahi mahi or mackerel.
You know that extra virgin olive oil is super healthy, right? Well, did you also know that avocado oil, flaxseed oil and hempseed oil are also very nutritious? Find a few salad dressing recipes and replace the olive oil with one of these other options to help diversify your diet.
In smoothies, switch between fats like ground seeds, soaked nuts, avocado, and MCT oil. I’m a huge fan of playing around with fat combinations to see which taste best in my smoothies.
If you haven’t already signed up, check out my new Super Smoothie Recipe Book – it’s totally free and contains 30 of my favorite superfood recipes!
Eat Seasonally and Buy Local
To make it easier to diversify your diet, you can also choose fresh fruits and vegetables that are available each season.
Our winters do make it tough to find fresh vegetables and fruits, but you can visit your local farmer’s market to chat with the vendors. They often grow fresh vegetables all year round in greenhouses. This way, you’ll be eating fresh, locally grown foods that actually help to boost your digestive enzyme activity!
Make sure to eat more berries and fresh fruits in the summer months. Buy lots of fresh berries and flash freeze them for nutritious fruit in the colder months too.
As the holidays come to a close for another year, it’s a good time to set some goals for the new year. Instead of setting ambiguous and unattainable goals (like we all do), set a few mini-goals that you can actually achieve. This way, you’ll be treating yourself better AND you’ll feel so awesome when you can honestly say that you stuck to your resolutions!
To reset after the holidays, choose to diversify your diet simply by choosing different foods. Commit to 2 or 3 new foods each month. Your body will thank you!