3 Ways to Boost Health Without Dieting

Boost health without dieting by Ashleigh Feltham,  Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist

Fad diets are almost impossible to stick to. Even if there is a loss of weight on the scales, you are likely to suffer from a rebound, regaining the weight to be right back where you began. But there are ways you can improve your health and diet quality without needing to go to extremes, cutting out all the foods you enjoy. Here are three ways to boost health without dieting.

Eat the Rainbow

When you prepare a meal, aim to include as many different colours as possible from fruit and vegetables. This could mean adding fruit salad with a dollop of yoghurt to your cereal at breakfast, or a side of sautéed vegetables with your eggs.

Boost Health Without Dieting

Add in a few extra vegetables to your spaghetti bolognaise, like carrots or mushrooms. Or pack an extra side salad with your favourite sandwich at lunch.

Include a small bowl of vegetable soup to enhance a snack of toast and butter, or some carrot, celery and capsicum sticks to your cheese and crackers. The key is to focus on adding in rather than taking away.

Swap Refined Grains for Wholegrains

Wholegrains give your body the nutrients of the entire grain. There are many nutrients in wholegrains that benefit your health. This includes fibre, vitamins and minerals, like iron, which transports oxygen throughout your body.

Many adults and children do not meet their dietary fibre needs each day. An adult needs 25-38g a day. Making the swap from refined to wholegrains will help add more fibre to each meal and snack, and put you on the right track to meeting your dietary fibre needs each day.

Wholegrains also contain valuable vitamins and minerals. They are a source of zinc, which supports an optimal functioning immune system. B vitamins allow your body to make energy from the food you eat, and magnesium supports normal nerve and muscle function. Wholegrains are also a source of phosphorus and manganese, which our bodies need for strong bones. Copper is necessary for the production of red blood cells and maintaining nerve cells.

The antioxidants in wholegrains help fight off free radicals, which cause damage and disease to the cells of your body. Wholegrains also have a lower glycemic index in comparison with refined grains. Low GI foods help lower blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance.

Wholegrains come in many forms, such as wholegrain rice, which includes brown, red and black rice. Also available are wholegrain pasta and couscous, quinoa, oats and crackers. Try adding a serve or two of wholegrains to each meal to reap the health benefits. An example for breakfast is half a cup of oats porridge served with milk, sliced fruit and cinnamon.

Be Picky with Meat

The type of protein you select can have a big impact on your health. For example, processed meats like bacon and ham can easily be a part of your diet each day. But these foods are in the ‘sometimes foods’ category, and in excess can increase your risk of certain cancers, like colorectal cancer.

Try swapping a ham sandwich for sliced turkey or chicken breast or canned tuna or salmon. Seafood provides essential fats that your brain needs to function optimally. Aim to include seafood two to three times a week with 100g of cooked weight being a serve. Canned seafood is equally as nutritious as fresh.

For good health, the recommendation is to consume to 350-500g a week of red meat, which includes pork. If you struggle to limit yourself to this range, try white meat, seafood or a plant-based protein like beans and legumes, tofu, nuts and seeds. Plant proteins are also a great way to look after your gut health.

Eggs are a great protein source. Include two eggs a day as part of an overall balanced diet. But take care if you have diabetes, heart disease or high cholesterol; the whites are good, but eat no more than six egg yolks a week.

Fruit salad with yogurt in carved melon cantaloupe bowl

Take home message:

Extreme diets don’t work in the long term. They are difficult and can take the joy out of life. Instead, use these three ways to boost health without dieting to become your healthiest self.