Variety is the spice of life. Not only that, but adding variety to your diet ensures you get access to a greater number of nutrients.
What is variety?
Variety is defined as:
“1: the quality or state of having different forms or types : MULTIFARIOUSNESS
2: a number or collection of different things especially of a particular class : ASSORTMENT
3a: something differing from others of the same general kind : SORT
b: any of various groups of plants or animals ranking below a species : SUBSPECIES” (1)
Why variety to your diet?
There are multiple reasons why you could or should add variety to your diet, including:
- To keep things interesting
- To get exposed to a greater variety of nutrients
- To reduce the exposure to certain toxins
- To support sustainable practices by buying local produce in season
- To expand your palate
- To learn about other cultures
- To save money
- To test your tolerance to certain foods or food components (e.g. FODMAPs) you were once intolerant to
How to add variety to your diet
Whenever possible, you should try to add some variety to your diet. Here are some suggestions on how to:
- Vary your vegetable and fruit intake based on your tolerance and seasonality
- Eat the rainbow. Don’t eat just green or just orange or just red. Colours are an indication of different types of phytochemicals.
- Vary your herbs and spices
- Vary your protein sources based on your dietary requirements/preferences:
- Red meats: beef, lamb, goat, kangaroo
- Poultry: chicken, duck
- Fish: salmon/trout, tuna, barramundi, snapper, sardines, etc.
- Seafood: prawns, mussels, oysters, etc.
- Legumes: beans, lentils, chickpeas, soybean-based proteins (e.g. tofu, tempeh)
- If you eat meat, vary the cuts: alternate lean cuts (e.g. chicken breast, pork loin, sirloin steak) with fattier cuts (e.g. chicken thighs, pork shoulder, beef ribs). In addition, keep in mind that fattier cuts are higher in energy (i.e. calories). Therefore, if you are watching your energy intake, reduce your portion sizes when eating fattier cuts, or stick to leaner cuts but choose different cuts when possible.
- Vary your nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds have amazing nutrients, but they also have different nutrient profiles. For example, some are fattier, some are more carby.
- Listen to your body! If you feel like eating a juicy steak, go for it! If you feel like not eating meat, have some legumes. If you feel like having some hearty carbs, make some porridge, polenta or rice.
- Vary the types of dishes you eat based on the season/weather. If it’s hot, favour salads, sandwiches, frittatas, etc. If it’s cold, choose curries, soups and stews most of the time. Having said that, there’s nothing wrong with having salad in winter and soup in summer. You do you.
- Vary your cooking methods. Some methods lend themselves better to some dish types but, in some cases, you can use different methods (e.g. boiling, steaming or roasting vegetables as a side) in order to accentuate different textures and physical properties of the produce.
- Try food from different cultures. This will not only keep things interesting and expand your palate, but will potentially expose you to nutrients you may not take in your habitual diet (e.g. curcumin from turmeric).
- Vary where you buy your food. If you have a garden or access to a farmer’s market, that’s wonderful, but also mix it up with some supermarket produce once in a while. This way you are lowering your chances of catching some pathogens that sometimes contaminate crops from specific farms.
- Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Variety. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved May 20, 2022, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/variety
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