For many of us, after an especially challenging 2020, we cannot wait for a bright and shiny 2021 to begin. But if your diet is feeling same-samey, dietitian Susie Burrell has some tips to re-energise it.
A new year, for better or for worse, is synonymous with diets and health overhauls, a time for us to start over, drop the extra Christmas kilos and make the dietary changes we have been meaning to all year.
And while there are always plenty of different diets doing the rounds, ultimately the key to achieving weight control long term is to make dietary changes that are sustainable and to follow a diet in which you actually like what you are eating. So if you have been feeling a little lacklustre, especially in the food space, here are some of the signs that your diet could do with a makeover as we move into 2021.
You are not enjoying what you are eating
If the thought of eating another tuna salad for lunch, or a protein and veg rich dinner makes you want to instantly order in, it is a sign that the meals you default to each week need mixing up. One of the many reasons that people seek out new and exciting diets is that they too get excited by new and exciting meals and food options.
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The good news is that you do not need to invest in a brand new diet to give yourself this rush, rather an hour or two spent with a couple of recipe books or websites will help you to identify some new, healthy staple meals to give your diet a healthy refresh so you actually look forward to mealtimes again.
You are feeling tired
Diets that are relatively low in carbohydrates, with limited inclusion of grains, starchy veggies, bread and even fruit may initially support fat loss, but over time, metabolic rate can be reduced to compensate for the lack of readily available fuel.
This may explain why you felt great on a lower-carb diet initially, only to notice feeling more fatigued over time. So, if a general feeling of fatigue plagues you, it may be time to assess that your diet is adequate in carbohydrates for the amount of activity you are doing as well as other key nutrients involved in energy production including iron, zinc, Vitamin B and the essential fats.
You are not losing weight
It is safe to say that if your goal is weight loss, and you are not achieving a weight loss of at least ½ – 1kg a month, it is time to review the diet you are following.
You may be consuming too few or too many calories, or your carbohydrate into may be too low, or too high but the best way to determine the right calorie and carbohydrate mix for you will be to consult with an accredited practising dietitian who will help you to develop your own personalised nutrition program.
You are gradually gaining weight
The human body loves stability, which explains why some diets may work effectively initially before losing their potency as the body readjusts to the new calorie load to ultimately keep your weight stable.
This also means that if the diet you are following is leading to slow, but incremental weight gain, it is time to readjust things to get your metabolism pumping again.
You are eliminating whole food groups
While there are many people who need to eliminate specific foods for a range of reasons, there are also plenty of people who eliminate carbs, gluten, lactose, dairy and grains when they may not need to.
Over time, eliminating entire groups of food can impact your overall nutritional status, causing nutrient deficiencies, changes in gut health and impacting energy levels. So if you eliminate foods but do not know the exact reason why, it is time to take a closer look at your diet with a dietitian or food allergy expert to make sure your elimination is not doing more harm than good.
Your tummy is giving you issues
When we internalise stress, have been exposed to a gut bug or are not absorbing nutrients in the digestive tract, our tummies will let us know very quickly.
For this reason, any significant change in gut function or bowel habits should never be ignored and if you are experiencing unexplained bloating, gas, diarrhea or general gut discomfort it is time to visit your GP ASAP for a thorough assessment and to help determine if there are any dietary changes you also need to make.
You keep getting sick
In recent years we have learnt that our gut health, and as such our dietary intake plays a significant role in immune function. For this reason, if you feel that you are eating well, yet constantly prone to illness and infection, it may be time for a diet check in to determine if there are any changes that will help to support gut health, optimise nutrient intake and ultimately support immune function.
Susie Burrell holds two honours degrees in nutrition and dietetics, and psychology. She is especially known for her practical, easy to understand approach to diet, nutrition and wellbeing.