Variety is the spice of life!!
Variety is the spice of life!!
“Am I getting enough variety? Do I need to eat more vegetables and fruit?”
Well as long as you’re not eating the same thing for all your meals you’re probably ok, but there are many things that you can do to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need for good health.
“How much variety is enough?”
Nutrition Australia encourages Australians to eat around 30 different foods each day. This isn’t referring to the different food groups just the variety of foods.
Eating nutrient dense foods give you the most nutrients for the fewest amount of calories. In other words, nutrient dense foods give you the “biggest bang for your buck.” You get lots of nutrients, and it doesn’t cost you much in terms of calories and leaves you room for more different foods.
Having a range of food from the different food groups (vegetables, fruit, cereals, meat, fish and dairy products) is the best way to ensure you are getting a range of different nutrients. My advice to most people is to choose different foods every shopping trip. I go to the market each Saturday to buy my vegetables, fruit and nuts, to ensure that I am getting a good variety of food I will then buy different foods on my next shop. This is one of the easiest ways of getting in different foods, no recording or planning throughout the week, just ensure you are not buying the same foods over and over again.
Looking at individual meals, try to have a mix of different foods in the one meal. For example; meat and 2 veg equates to just 3 different foods as where if you have a casserole, minestrone soup or a mixed salad with meat you could get up to 6-7 depending on all the ingredients.
I have been asked many times by different people “should I have a multi vitamin?” This is something that should only be thought about if you have a deficiency or if you are unable to eat certain foods due to an allergy or other medical reason. You are able to get everything you need out of food for general health, keeping in mind you eat a variety of different foods.
What our bodies need from food changes as we move through different life stages. Babies, children, teenagers, adults, older adults, pregnant and breastfeeding women all have different needs. By aiming to eat well for our life stage, we can help keep happy and healthy. This also includes changes in our activity levels; if you are exercising more you need to eat more.
This is where consulting a Dietarian or General practitioner would be a good idea. If you have any concerns it is always best to be safe than sorry.
Tips for increasing food variety
- Choose a variety of foods from the Healthy Living Pyramid.
- Eat a range of different breakfast cereals and breads.
- Jazz up dishes with herbs and spices – these can transform a meal for little cost without adding salt or fat.
- Experiment with the different vegetables, fruits, grains and meats available.
Ask for tips on how to prepare and eat exotic produce.
- Remember, just because you haven’t tried it, doesn’t mean you won’t like it.
- Give yourself time to get used to a new food – experts say that it can take humans up to nine tries of a new food to adjust to its flavour.
So enjoy different foods, increasing your variety. Who knows you may find some wonderful new tastes that you weren’t aware of before.
Thank you for reading.
Mrs Jessica Gray
Div1 RN (Specialising in Diet Related Disease and Nutrition)
MS Australia Ambassador
Australian Para Athlete
Nutrition Australia;http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/ (2015)
South Australia Health; http://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/