How to re-evaluate your dietary approach: What to consider

Nutrition experts advise diversifying your dietary intake with a broader range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein sources when compared to childhood diets. Is it time for you to re-evaluate your dietary approach?

Re-evaluating your dietary way of life starts with examining your current eating habits. While on a path to a more conscious awareness of your dietary choices, it’s worthwhile to examine why your old dietary habits may no longer benefit you.

Age. What your body needed during childhood may be needed in lesser amounts in adulthood, e.g., milk protein. As we age, our metabolism slows. What we ate as children may not have made us corpulent kids but as we age, these same foods, in these same amounts, will likely make us ample adults.

Different life stages require different nutritional needs. Children, adults and seniors have varying requirements for nutrients like vitamins, minerals and protein. Adapting your diet to your age can help ensure you meet these specific needs.

Illness and disease. Certain medical conditions may require dietary adjustments, such as monitoring carbohydrate intake for diabetes or adopting a low-sodium diet for hypertension. Adapting your diet to manage or prevent specific illnesses can promote good health. If you have a chronic condition, your previous diet may worsen it. Even if you’re healthy, consider modifying current habits to prevent potential issues. Just because illness has not yet been diagnosed, doesn’t mean it’s not in the making.

Food sensitivities and reactions. People develop food allergies and sensitivities later in life. This is noteworthy because, unlike allergies, sensitivities often involve a less severe immune response and can manifest as digestive issues, skin rashes or other symptoms. People develop food allergies and sensitivities later in life for various reasons. For example, the factors below can all contribute to the development of adulthood food sensitivities.

Factors that contribute to adulthood food sensitivities

  • Changes in digestive enzymes: As we age, the production of certain digestive enzymes can decrease, making it more challenging for the body to break down certain foods.
  • Altered gut microbiota: The composition of the gut microbiota can change over time, impacting how the body processes different foods. Imbalances in gut bacteria may contribute to food sensitivities.
  • Hormonal changes: Hormonal fluctuations, especially in women during menopause, can influence digestion and impact how the body reacts to certain foods.
  • Weakening immune system: The immune system tends to weaken with age, and this can affect how the body responds to various substances, potentially leading to sensitivities.
  • Medication use: Some medications may affect the digestive system or interact with certain foods, leading to sensitivities.
  • Environmental factors: Exposure to different environmental factors, pollutants and chemicals over time may contribute to the development of food sensitivities.
  • Stress: Chronic stress can affect the digestive system and may contribute to the development of sensitivities to certain foods.

New scientific findings. In the ever-evolving field of nutritional science, new information emerges every day. For example, we know now that we should avoid foods containing unhealthy trans fatty acids. At one time, the USDA encouraged Americans’ consumption of margarine, which contained these unhealthy fats.

Lifestyle. Sedentary? Active? Somewhere in between?

Factors such as these help determine the kinds of foods you need to promote health and wellness. A health-promoting diet excludes regular consumption of high fat, artery-clogging foods such as pizza, hamburgers, bacon, French fries and hot dogs. Avoiding or minimizing highly refined flour products such as cakes, cookies, donuts and crackers keeps you on the path to dietary wellness. And avoiding or minimizing sugary, high-fat foods like ice cream helps keep the pounds off. Most who eat poor diets probably realize their diets should include more fresh whole foods, including fruits and vegetables.

Your awareness of a problem, an imbalance, a need may be signaling that it’s for a round of growth and change in your life. Re-examine your eating habits every now and then and decide if those same habits still serve you. If they don’t, then it’s time to upgrade your food choices and form new habits. Start with minor changes. Bigger changes can come later.

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