You know you've got to change your diet, but you're not sure where to start. We asked three nutritionists for their tips on how to evaluate eating habits to see how diet, good or bad, affects you. Read their tips below.
1. Ask Yourself These Questions
Cynthia Sass, a registered dietitian and author of S.A.S.S. Yourself Slim, recommends clients ask themselves five questions so they can realize how off track they are. "If you answered no to any of these questions, you may be missing some things. However, you may already know this! The trick is finding ways to fill in the gaps each and every day," she explains.
- Do you eat at least two servings of fruit and three of veggies every single day, one serving being a cup, about the size of a tennis ball?
- Do you eat only or primarily whole rather than refined grains (brown or wild rice instead of white, whole-grain versions of bread, crackers, pasta, etc.)?
- Do you eat lean protein at every meal (beans, lentils, poultry, seafood)?
- Do you include healthy plant-based fats in each meal (avocado, nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil)?
- Do you drink water with every meal?
2. Take a Blood Test
Blood work can help you recognize exactly what your diet is missing, says nutritionist Melissa Costello, founder of Karma Chow. In addition, just the act of eating cleaner will help your body understand what it does and doesn't need. "The cleaner we eat, the more the body will want clean food and begin to push out the bad foods," Melissa says. "It's a process, and can take time, but our bodies are so intuitive, and if we learn to listen to them, they will get what they need."
3. Keep a Food Journal
The best way to recognize holes in your diet, says registered dietitian Erin Palinski, is to journal everything you eat for three days. You might be surprised at how little produce you are actually getting. "On average, only one in three people get two or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. This means your diet would be lacking in essential fiber and many nutrients, especially magnesium and potassium, which help to regulate healthy blood pressure levels," Erin says. "With heart disease being the number one killer of women and high blood pressure being a major risk factor for heart disease, it's critical to evaluate your diet and make sure you are getting in enough of these essential nutrients." She recommends getting potassium and magnesium from foods like tomatoes, whole-grain bread, and yogurt.