8 Simple Ways I’ve Improved My Diet (And How You Can Too)

8 Simple Ways to Improve Your Diet

I’ve been making a few changes lately. More so than usual.

Since we moved into the new place a few months ago, I’ve had a bit of a second wind with regards to working on my habits.

I’ve switched up my training a little bit to make it more aligned with my goals. I’ve altered the structure of my workday and morning routine to fit with the current goings on. And last but certainly not least, I’ve made a few tweaks to my diet.

All of these things that I just mentioned were already pretty healthy – I’ve been working at them for quite a while and reached a certain level of comfort. But being overly comfortable isn’t something that I’m all that interested in.

Sure, there’s definitely something to be said for just ‘being’ and enjoying life without feeling the need always improve. But I feel that spending too long in that state can sometimes allow laziness and unhealthy habits to slip in the back door, which is not what we want.

I also don’t ever want to get too attached to one way of thinking, because that’s how you end up doing stuff just because that’s the way you’ve always done it…

Anyways, back to the diet.

I’m still eating a load of plants, and I’m still aiming for nutrient density, but here are a few other things that I’ve been experimenting with over the past few months. Some will stick, whereas others will inevitably be tossed by the wayside at some point, but they all serve their purpose.

1. Fermented foods

Have you ever tried Sauerkraut? I hadn’t until a few moths ago. It had aways scared me.

Whilst the idea of fermented cabbage doesn’t sound too appealing (and it happens to smell like cheesy feet too), it actually tastes pretty good. We now have it a few times a week with a salad, or on the side of our stir fry.

Why, you might ask?

Fermented foods contain a shed load of good bacteria and probiotics, which have been shown to improve the health of your bowels, aid in digestion, and even boost your immune system.

You can get your hands on sauerkraut in the ‘world foods’ section in most supermarkets, or make your own pretty easily.

The other fermented food that we’ve been eating quite a lot of lately is sourdough bread, as opposed to the traditional wholewheat bread that we’d get through quite a lot of.

From my understanding, sourdough doesn’t contain yeast like traditional bread does, and the one that we get at the local bakery also has a lower gluten content (it’s much flatter – it’s the gluten causes bread to rise). Incidentally, I’ve noticed that the sourdough doesn’t cause me to bloat like traditional bread sometimes used to. It also tastes pretty good too.

The next step: at some stage I want to have a go at making my own starter and baking some homemade sourdough. Might even have a go at some kombucha if I’m feeling crazy…

2. Soaking our pulses and nuts

We used to buy a lot of beans and lentils canned or pre-cooked, but recently we started getting them dried and in bulk. Not only has this saved us a load of money (I’m a growing boy who gets through a lot of beans), it’s more environmentally friendly, and they also taste better.

We typically soak them for around 24 hours, before cooking them in the pressure cooker (I just boil them because I haven’t figured out to work the damn thing yet). Then they get cooled and stored in the freezer, for easy access pulses whenever we need them.

When we remember, we’ve also been soaking our nuts (cue the sniggers) before we use them. I’ve found that it takes a lot of the bitterness away, and is also meant to improve their digestibility, which is always good.

The next step: we’re gonna play around with sprouting our pulses by soaking them for longer periods, which can apparently improve their digestibility and nutrient availability even more by reducing the phytic acid content.

3. Switching up the grains

This is something I’ve been working at for quite a few years, but we’ve upped the ante recently and started making a conscious effort to swap out traditional grains like wholegrain rice and wholewheat pasta with pseudo grains, such as millet and wild rice. Sometimes these are little more pricey, but we do what we can and get them whenever they’re on offer.

Wheat in particular is a plant that has been modified extensively since the dawn of agriculture, some ten thousand years ago. The way that we grow and process it today is far different to how it would have traditionally been consumed, and the wheat itself is also much different due to hybridisation and selective breeding.

On the other hand, ancient grains such as wild rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat and amaranth have been significantly less modified, and still largely resemble their ancestral forms. They’re typically more nutrient dense than modern wheat, and the gluten content is far lower (if it’s present at all).

Maybe it’s coincidence, but I do tend to feel less sluggish if I eat a shed load of pseudo grains compared to when I eat big bowl of pasta (which I’ll admit isn’t that often).

The next step: just like with the pulses, I’d like to have a go at sprouting our grains and pseudo grains. I tried it once but I think we had a dodgy batch of buckwheat…

4. Upping the fat intake

My approach to the macronutrients debate (be it low fat or high fat) has always been that it should come second to your micronutrient demands. (I would love to get that hashtag changed from ‘if it fits your macros’ to ‘if it fits your micros’…)

In other words, eating a certain amount of carbs, fat or protein is nowhere near as important as getting a wide range of fresh foods that are rich in health promoting vitamins and minerals.

That being said, in the past I have played around with a lower fat approach (10-15% of total calories from fat), and even advocated it to some degree. I felt pretty good doing it, and lots of other people do too.

Lately though, I’ve been experimenting with a higher fat intake. I’m not sure where the numbers are, but probably around 20-25%. I’m certainly less of a fat nazi anyways, which I think is the phrase all the cool kids are using today.

I’ve been steadily upping my intake of avocados, nuts, seeds, and (shock-horror) even a bit of oil here and there.

I can honestly say that I feel much better for it. It could also be down to the other changes that I’ve made, but I think that not being overly focussed on my fat intake has made me less stressed about my foods choices, which has had a net benefit on my health.

Granted, someone who is suffering from heart disease would maybe do best with a lower fat approach, at least according to the evidence put forth by Dr. Esselstyn and the like. But for me personally, I’ve been able to perform better mentally and maintain more lean muscle mass since I upped my fat intake.

The next step: I’ll be getting some blood-work done that will hopefully give me more of an idea of how much of an effect the increased fat intake has had on my overall health.

5. Going for wild foods when possible

It’s not just modern wheat that has undergone massive transformations since the advent of agriculture. Most of the foods we see in our supermarkets today are hybridised versions of ancestral wild foods.

Just like a dog is the domesticated version of the wolf, our crisp lettuces and plump tomatoes are domesticated versions of their original wild forms. They have been selectively bred over generations and generations for certain desirable characteristics – typically taste and appearance, with little regard for nutritional content.

Wild foods that are still around in some parts of the world today are generally more nutrient dense than their domesticated counterparts. And science aside, it just makes sense that the more recently a food has been modified, the less we know about how it can affect our health long term, so it might not be the best idea to base our diets around those foods.

Right now it’s not that viable for me to eat entirely wild. Unfortunately I can’t just disappear into the woods to go foraging. But I’m trying my best to eat foods that are as close to their wild progenitors as possible. That means ones that have been the least modified by us pesky humans, ones that still retain a lot of their original characteristics.

Off the top of my head, some of them include blueberries, rocket, watercress, wild rice, beets, avocados, and chia seeds. I’ll go into more detail about the whole wild food thing in a few weeks time, so make sure you’re subscribed if you’re interested in hearing more about that.

The next step: I want to keep exploring the different opportunities to include wild foods into our diet, and introduce a few wild plants to the little balcony garden that we’re growing.

6. More green stuff

This one is pretty self explanatory really.

Green leafy veggies are some of the most important foods to consume on regular basis. They’re packed full of important vitamins and minerals, as well as containing plenty of omega-3’s, protein and essential fatty acids.

We do pretty well on the greens front, but we’ve been working extra hard lately to make sure there’s plenty going round. I’ve even added some spirulina to my breakfast smoothie, which although tastes like a pond, is pretty nutrient dense and a good source of antioxidants .

Aside from the spirulina, I’ve also added a few other supplements alongside my first meal of the day, which I’l talk about in more detail in another post over the next few weeks.

The next step: Keep up with ‘dem greens.

7. Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is another thing that I’ve played around with for quite a few years, but I’ve now made it more of a regular thing. I typically go for about 15-16 hours fasted, which means having breakfast at around midday.

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that it’s great for fat loss and even improving cognitive function, but I do it for other reasons. One, is that it gives my digestive system a bit of a rest from breaking down a shed load of plant matter. And two is that it frees up my morning entirely. It simplifies the first part of my day, which means that I’m more productive and I can get the most important work done early.

The next step: I don’t really think there’s a next step with this one. I’m pretty happy with a 15-16 hour fast – anymore than that and I don’t tend to feel that great.

8. Planning ahead

This last one doesn’t always happen, but we do our best.

Things are really busy around here at the moment, with my girlfriend at her new job, and me working on a new project (which will be with you guys pretty soon). We’ve started to make a conscious effort to plan and sometimes prep meals on the weekend for the rest of the week.

This means that we don’t have to think and make difficult food decisions during the week when we’re tired and just want to sleep. It also saves money, because only buy what we need and therefore don’t waste as much food.

The next step: just be more consistent with the food prep. It makes life so much easier.

What tweaks have you made recently to improve your diet, or any other area of your life?

Have you experimented with any of the ideas shared above?

Let me know in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you.


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Luke Jones

Luke Jones is a mover, blogger and wellness enthusiast. He spends his time exploring and sharing ideas in mindful movement, healthy living and adventure.

4 Responses to “8 Simple Ways I’ve Improved My Diet (And How You Can Too)

  • It’s nice to mix things up every once and a while, it’s how you find what works best for you (which often relates to what foods you most enjoy). I really find eating plenty of greens (I just stick with the lettuce variety), getting plenty of sleep, and stay hydrated (especially re-hydrating in the morning) all contribute to feeling good and having consistent energy throughout the day. And exercise of course, particularly an activity you truly enjoy. I also feel best eating plenty of fruit and vegetables each day, and as far as starches, sweet potato is a definite favourite.

    It’ll be interesting to see how you feel longer term with an upped fat content. I know some people seem to feel better with a bit more, say 15-20% on average. I generally stick to lower fat, but go through periods of adding in a bit more.

    I know I’ve always found I preferred sprouted/soaked pulses. Although that really ups the amount of pre-planning that needs to go into food prep, it’s worth it.

    So keep us posted on how the changes work out for you, and any additional adjustments you make!

    • Hi Sheena, thanks for the comment!

      Yeah I really enjoy just throwing in these mini experiments now and again just to see how they turn out. Will definitely be interesting to see how the higher fat thing turns out – hopefully the blood work will give me more of a solid indication.

      The soaked pulses have been great – sometimes we forget to put them on, but we’re getting better at making it a habit. We’re gonna give sprouting a try next time round which will be interesting! Do you know if the sprouted legumes re then suitable for freezing, or how long they keep in the fridge?

      I’ll definitely keep you posted!

  • Ian Davey
    2 years ago

    Great post Luke, I’ve been enjoying your blog for ages now and its always a great reminder to keep up our best efforts. We, the animals and the planet deserve it.

    North Bali, Indonesia.

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