Nutrition can be confusing when you’re just starting to change your diet. These tips will help make your dietary changes easier.
1. Dropping refined sugar can cause withdrawals
“Just stop eating sugar,” they say. “You won’t miss it after a few days.” How many times have you heard people tell you that changing your diet is “easy” and you won’t even miss the foods you’ve been eating?
Once people get past a certain point, they forget what it’s like to start their journey. They forget that the struggle with sugar withdrawal is real.
When you change your diet by eliminating sugar, you can expect to go through some kind of withdrawal. For some, it’s only a mild inconvenience marked by cravings. However, some people get headaches and experience bouts of depression.
Refined sugar is more than just something you eat that makes you unhealthy. Sugar releases endorphins and dopamine. Endorphins are your body’s natural opioids and dopamine makes you feel good.
When you stop giving your body sugar, you cut off the supply of endorphins and dopamine your body has come to expect. This is what causes withdrawal-like symptoms.
While it’s true that you won’t miss sugary foods at some point in your journey, always remember to start where you are. Don’t expect to be free from cravings in the first 48 hours. Be prepared for potential withdrawal.
Use stevia to replace sugar
If you want to taste something sweet in place of sugar, choose pure stevia. It’s the only natural sugar replacement and it has no effect on blood sugar. However, only use pure stevia. Some products use maltodextrin, dextrose, and other bulking agents. Pure stevia only contains powdered stevia leaf.
2. Avoid fake meats
When you’re just starting to change your diet, you might be tempted to load up on fake meats thinking they’re a healthy option. Unfortunately, most fake meats on the market are loaded with the bad kind of sodium, plenty of chemicals, and are heavily processed.
Instead, do one of two things: cook your own meals from whole foods or look for food that hasn’t been highly processed. Cooking your meals is the ideal option, but if you’re busy, it’s okay to eat prepared meals when you find healthy options.
The term ‘healthy’ doesn’t really mean much, but generally speaking, healthy food is food that is as close to its natural state as possible and contains bioavailable nutrients. Think whole fruits and veggies that haven’t been processed or cooked.
3. Learn how to grow food
There’s no better time to learn how to grow your own food than when you’re on a mission to improve your health. Homegrown food is much fresher, tastier, and cheaper than store-bought food.
Growing food is highly rewarding, and you can do it in a house or an apartment. All you need are seeds or starter plants, some soil, fertilizer, water, and some growing pots or small raised beds.
Start with the basics like tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, and herbs. These are all easy to grow and quite tasty. You can also grow microgreens and sprouts. Sunflower and pea sprouts are some of the tastiest sprouts, while red clover and alfalfa are some of the best microgreens to grow.
4. Create a nutrition plan
While lean meats and organic fruits and vegetables are certainly healthy, your body needs specific nutrients. You can’t just eat random vegetables and expect to get all the nutrients your body needs.
Working with a nutritionist is the easiest way to get a solid nutrition plan. Trying to figure everything out on your own can be overwhelming. When you work with a nutritionist, you’ll learn how to make your own meal plans based on the foods you enjoy most.
5. Use pink Himalayan salt or sea salt
Salt is necessary for life – it’s how the human body conducts electricity. Salt is also responsible for balancing bodily fluids, nerve conduction, and muscle contractions. Without salt in our diet, we wouldn’t be alive.
The first thing to know is that sodium is not always salt, and not all salt is ideal for consumption. For example, table salt has no nutritional value, while pink Himalayan salt contains more than 84 important minerals. These minerals are found in trace amounts, however.
While pink Himalayan salt and sea salt won’t help you meet your daily requirements for minerals, they’re still better than table salt.
Table salt is heavily processed, which removes the nutritional content. Worse, it’s ground so fine that manufacturers often add anti-caking agents to their salt. If you’ve been consuming finely ground table salt, you’ve likely been consuming these anti-caking agents along with MSG and bleach compounds used in the whitening process.
When you switch to pink Himalayan salt or sea salt, you’ll notice a taste difference almost immediately. You don’t have to use it in excess, but sprinkle a little on your avocado or put a pinch in your soup.
6. Find a source for B12 if you’re vegetarian or vegan
There’s nothing inherently wrong with being vegan or vegetarian, as some people believe. Nutrition is nutrition, regardless of the source. The only thing that matters is what nutrients you consume, the quantity of those nutrients, and their bioavailability.
You can meet all of your nutritional needs without consuming meat or animal products. However, vitamin B12 is a different story. This is one of the few vitamins many people need to supplement.
If you’re planning on moving to a vegan or vegetarian diet, be prepared to find an exogenous source of vitamin B12. Spirulina is an excellent source of B12, although it may not be desirable for vegans who don’t want to consume algae.
If you’re going vegan, you need an isolated B12 supplement since B12 can interact with iron, copper, and vitamin C to produce analogues that block B12 receptors.
With the exception of B12, you probably don’t need additional supplements.
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Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, Utah State University, and the ISSA College of Exercise Science.
Nathan has 20 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.
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