As a Dietitian I see so many people, who are willing to sacrifice anything to lose weight.  Although achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is important for good health, it’s not the only indicator.  The World Health Organisation attributes 19% of gastrointestinal cancers, over 30% of heart attacks and over one in ten strokes directly to people not meeting their fruit and vegetable requirements.  With this in mind, I’d like to encourage you to focus on eating a healthy diet, and not just a low kilojoule one.

5 clear signs that your diet is not as healthy as it could be

1. You’ve caught a cold more than once over the past year –  Although you can expect to catch at least one cold each year, if you need to be wearing a surgical mask to protect you from every bug, your immune system is probably not working as well as it should be.  Another indicator that your immune system is poor is if it takes you more than a week to get over a common cold.  Vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, found in potatoes and citrus fruits, iron found in red meat and poultry and zinc found in red meat and seafood are important for a strong immune system.

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woman, blowing her nose - one of 5 warning signs of a bad diet you may be ignoring

2.You find clumps of hair in the shower – Hair is made from a protein, called keratin.  If you haven’t been consuming enough protein in your diet, your body may compensate by ceasing non-core protein-building activities such as hair growth.  The best sources of protein are red meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, milk and yoghurt.

3. You would rather sit home with a block of chocolate than go out with friends – a nutritious diet is also essential to guard against depression.  Research shows those who don’t meet their folate, omega 3 or vitamin D requirements are more likely to be depressed.  Furthermore, a study by Dr Akbaraly and colleagues found that people who ate more processed foods were more likely to suffer from depression.

woman with glasses, just about to eat a bar of chocolate

4. Your gums bleed when you brush your teeth – bleeding gums may be an indication of a vitamin C or riboflavin deficiency.  Furthermore, pale pink gums may suggest a deficiency of iron.  Gums should be strong, firm and a bright pinky red colour.

5. You spend more than 10 minutes on the toilet – approximately 15% of Australians suffer from constipation.  If you need to strain to open your bowels, or spend ages on the toilet, waiting for your bowel motion, it is likely that you aren’t meeting your fibre requirements.  Fruit, vegetables and wholegrains are the best sources of fibre and should make up the bulk of your dietary intake each day.

If any of these indicators sound like you, ask yourself if you need to be improving the nutrient content of your diet.  Are you including wholegrain breads and cereals, fruit, vegetables, protein-rich foods such as red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, legumes or tofu, good oils and low fat dairy foods in your diet each day?  If you need guidance to improve the nutrient content of your diet, consider making an appointment to see an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

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