Getting the right nutrients is important as the food we eat plays a big role in our mood. Eating nutritious foods boosts energy levels, brain functioning and wellbeing. The catch is, the way we feel can have a big impact on the food we choose to eat.
Below are some strategies you can try which will help you to fuel your body with nutritious foods and which also have a positive effect on your mind and mood. Know that what may work for one person may not work for another, so give them a go and see what works for you.
Fact: We will often buy quick and easy options for meals because we’re tired and time-poor. There are things you can do to make it easier to cook nutritious meals at home.
Action: Plan what food you’ll eat at the start of the week, use similar ingredients to cut down on time and cost and make food preparation simple.
Buying frozen, pre-cut vegetables to add to what you’re cooking
Freezing meat and fish in meal-sized portions so that it’s easy to defrost and cook
Cooking a double portion of dinner and putting in the fridge for lunch the next day
Serving your protein portion in different ways. For example, cook a large serving of mince and make burritos, spaghetti bolognese, chilli con carne or stuffed capsicums. You could try serving grilled chicken with different sides such as mashed potato, brown rice, couscous and salad, steamed veggies, or roast veggies.
Fact: Many of us don’t prioritise setting time aside to eat because we’re too busy at work or with our families. We end up snacking or starving which can result in not-so-great food choices.
Action: Make time in your week to prepare and eat food.
Waking up 10 minutes earlier so you have time to eat some breakfast
If you’re hungry a lot or you don’t tend to eat regularly, have snacks ready to go and keep some on hand. Ideas for snacks include nuts, hummus with veggies and crackers, fresh fruit, popcorn, yoghurt, or muesli bars.
Stopping at least once per day to eat food which will prevent you from starving later and eating all the food you can find
Planning to have dinner at a similar time each night so you don’t leave it too late to make something nutritious
What does a good diet look like? Individual dietary needs will vary from person to person but you can get a rough idea of how many serves of grains, proteins, vegetables, fruits and dairy that you should be aiming to eat for your gender and age here.
If you are concerned about your diet, visit your GP for advice.
I don’t like water or vegetables. What do I do?
While you might not like to be seen by your mates doing it, you can add slices of fruit such as oranges and watermelon to water in your drink bottle. There’s also lots of herbal and fruit teas you can drop into water for flavoring.
Try thinking about how you prepare your veggies. You don’t have to eat them plain. Do you prefer vegetables roasted or with a little melted cheese on top? Go for it. Also try stir frying with a sauce or adding salt and pepper, try some different options until you find something that sticks. Ease yourself into these changes and expect you might not be thrilled with the change to begin with.
I’ve made these changes but I’m still feeling low and stressed. What do I do?
If you’ve made some good, consistent changes to your diet and you’re still not feeling great, it’s time to see your GP to talk about what’s going on. Remember to congratulate yourself for what you’ve achieved and try to keep going with it as your overall health will certainly benefit from a nutritious diet.
Need some meal ideas? Click here for some quick and easy recipes that taste great too.
If you feel like you need some support or motivation to get where you want to be, you could try Get Healthy NSW, a free coaching service.
It can be hard to make and sustain changes in what we eat. If none of these tips have worked for you, it might be time to see a professional.