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March is National Nutrition Month and this year’s focus is Personalize Your Plate!
Just as there is no one-size-fits-all approach to healthy eating, there is also no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition for gut health.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, there are four ways to help personalize your plate that can also be applied to nutrition for gut health.
1. Develop your cooking skills
Learning how to cook is empowering!
Eating a healthy diet is a great way to support gut health, but you also want your meals to be tasty. If you have dietary restrictions, developing your cooking skills will allow you to experiment with new dishes and keep things exciting in the kitchen!
You’re not going to become a master chef overnight, but each new cooking technique you learn will add up over time. There are plenty of free videos on YouTube or you can search for more in-depth classes on course sharing websites.
Learning how to cook is wonderful, but now you need to decide what to cook!
2. Plan your meals
If you have dietary restrictions because of your digestive condition, you don’t always have the luxury of being able to randomly select a recipe to make. Even if you’re eating for general gut health, it’s going to take some planning to figure out what to make each week.
This is where meal planning comes in!
The best way to ease into meal planning is to start with weeknight dinners. Write a list from Monday to Friday and fill it in with a dinner for each day. As you get more comfortable with meal planning, you can include lunch and breakfast in there too! Here’s a sample of what a complete meal plan could look like.
Once you have your meals planned, you can then break the plan down into individual ingredients to add to your food shopping list. Done and done!
3. Eat a varied diet
One potential drawback of meal planning is that it’s easier to follow the same plan each week than it is to mix things up.
Scientists are learning that a healthy microbiome depends on a diverse diet, so we should be aiming to eat as broad and varied of a diet as possible to support our gut health.
If you have dietary restrictions, you can branch out from your old standbys by searching for new recipes on the internet or utilizing cookbooks. Even if the recipe doesn’t fit your needs perfectly, you can use it for inspiration!
If you are still feeling stuck in a rut with your diet, it’s a good idea to check in with a registered dietitian.
4. Work with a registered dietitian
A registered dietitian (RD), and particularly one who specializes in digestive conditions, can help you better understand your food triggers. They will also work with you to help broaden your diet as much as possible.
Click here to find an RD!
Whether you’re eating to support your gut health in general, or you’re working around your dietary restrictions, personalizing your plate is key to a happy and healthy gut!
Katelyn Collins Wilson, RD is a registered dietitian and health writer specializing in digestive health. Katelyn’s personal experience with a digestive condition first sparked her passion for nutrition and health. Since then, she has been a vocal advocate for the digestive health community and has dedicated her own nutrition practice to serving those with digestive conditions.