“Plan to make good choices.”
― Leslie Monroe
For me, this AIP caper is all about making choices that serve me. Focusing on what I can add to my diet (and lifestyle) to improve my health.
A couple of months back, I published a wee article on 9 Tips for Adding Nutrient Density in response to feedback I had received from a number of clients. They were struggling with all the foods they had to remove from their diet as part of the protocol.
Reframing your paradigm to focus on adding nutrients can be a big shift
But, it is such a worthwhile one in making your Autoimmune Protocol experience a success.
And, my ‘starter’ list proved to be very popular. So, here are my next 9 tips…
1. Add a vegetable snack every day
In my ‘starter’ list, my #1 tip for adding nutrient density was to add at least one more vegetable to every meal. Increasing your vegetable intake is one of the very best things you can do to increase the good stuff you do for your health.
Adding a vegetable snack every day will help you to achieve this, too.
2. Start a Recipe Folder
“We are all warned to read labels. The salutary truth is that we shouldn’t be eating anything that has a label on it!”
― T.C. Fry
This has got to be one of the simplest, yet most practical ways, increase your ‘cooking mojo’… And, homecooking is where it’s at if you want to increase your nutrients.
As AIPers, we are inundated with increasing numbers of fantastic AIP bloggers offering us up recipes for all sorts of wonderful dishes. It can become a little overwelming – especially if you are not someone who loves to cook!
One way around this is to have a recipe folder. My system works like this: When I come across a recipe I like, I print it out. If I make it and like it, it goes into the folder. If it’s not a winner, I discard it. No harm, no foul.
Over time, recipes that are on repeat end up at the front of my folder. My folder is quite impressively fayt, too…
This process saves time and the stress of having to worry about what to cook.
3. Make Breakfast the Same as Dinner
One of the most common questions for those just starting out on the Autoimmune Protocol is “What on earth do I eat for breakfast?”
We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that breakfast consists of cereals and toast. Your first meal of the day is a great opportunity to start the day with a heap of nutrient density.
The best way to do this is to treat it as you would any other meal – happy protein + good fats + LOTS of vegetables (+ a side of fermented veggies, too). My favourite way to do this is with a breakfast hash.
4. Store Fruits and Vegetables Correctly
By now the eat more vegetables mantra is a no brainer! So, given the importance of increasing your vegetable intake, it makes sense that you prepare and store them to both minimise nutrient loss and make it easier on yourself to eat all these vegetables!
- all vegetables — except those of the root variety — should be stored in the fridge until you need them.
- all fruits (except berries) — and this this includes avocados — should be stored at room temperature away from direct light.
- all cut fruits and vegetables – should be stored with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice on them and in an airtight container. Oxidisation occurs when produce is cut. The vitamin C in citrus slows decay.
- tender herbs — Wrap herbs such as chives, mint, oregano, dill, sage and thyme in damp paper towel. Store in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge.
- parsley and corander/cilantro – Stand upright in a glass containing 1-2cm of water. Cover with a plastic bag and secure with an elastic band. Store in the fridge.
- Leafy Greens – to make it easy to add leafy greens to your cooking, wash spin and chop leafies like chard, spinach and kale. Pop into a plastic bag in the fridge and simply remove handfuls as and when you need them.
5. Drink Your Leafy Greens
Want a great way to get a truck-load of nutrients into your day without having to really even try? – give Stephanie’s Healing Green Broth challenge a go. It’s an easy, quick and tasty way to get more bone broth, collagen, healthy fats and healing green leafies and herbs into your diet.
The green broth literally takes less than 10 minutes to make – including washing out your blender. And, you can feel it working. You will notice the energy boost!
6. Be Sneaky!
No matter how healthy and nutrient focused you are, it can sometimes be a challenge to motivate other members of your household to feel the same way. This is not limited to little people, either – big kids can struggle with this healthy ethos, too.
This is where being sneaky can come in handy. When my niece was visiting me earlier in the year, I made Shepherd’s Pie for her first meal. Sure, she indicated that the leeks on top were “like weird lettuce” but she had no idea that the mashed potato topping was actually mashed cauliflower…
Getting into the habit of adding extra pureed or finely diced vegetables into braises and stews is a great way to hide extra nutrients if you have fussy eaters in your house.
And, if they are sweet of tooth, well – how about some Pumpkin Spice Gummies (full of collagen!), Matcha Caramel Slice (with a hidden secret ingredient) or the Easiest Healthy Ice Cream recipe in the world?
7. Include healthy fats
It’s very easy to fail to include enough healthy fat in our diet thanks to years of indoctrination about low-fat diets!
Including healthy fats is absolutely essential for your mood, hormone balance, cognitive function, skin health and more.
Some of the top fats for you to add to add to a balanced meal are olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, animal fats from pasture-raised and grass-fed animals and – if tolerated – ghee from happy cows.
8. Don’t forget the fiber
It’s not just increasing our vegetable intake that counts. It’s the kinds of vegetables we eat that matter, too. If you’re immediately thinking asparagus, kale, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower – you’re on the right track!
Despite our nutrient dense approach – and all those vegetables – it is still possible for us to fall short in terms of fiber intake.
According to Dr Sarah Ballantyne (the Paleo Mom), research shows that how much dietary fiber you eat is a much stronger determinant of health than other dietary factors. Fiber dramatically reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and even some forms of cancer.
In her latest eBook, Fantastic Fiber, Sarah breaks down the why’s and how’s of adding more of this all-important nutrient to your diet. Not all types of fiber are equally beneficial, so she specifically talks to the health effects of different fiber types and busts important fiber myths!
9. Keep it simple
When you embark on any healing protocol it is easy to spiral into overwhelm. There’s a lot to take in.
Keeping it simple is the best way to help you succeed.
Finding tools and systems to help you to navigate this wholefood approach is what matters. It’s still better to eat a plate of broccoli any way you can get it than to not eat it because it’s not a rainbow of colours on your plate.
Focus your attention to those things that bring you the most bang for your buck and that you know work for you.
- Quantity matters. If in doubt, add more vegetables to your plate.
- Bone broth can be used in a myriad of ways and it’s super good for you.
- You don’t have to be a gourmet chef but you do need to spend time in your kitchen
- A plate of simply roasted vegetables can become your best friend
So, there you have it – another 9 ways you can add more nutrient density to your diet… Have I forgotten your favourite? Do leave a comment and let me know?
Tried some of these tips? – why not tag me on Facebook or Instagram. I’ll happily share the love (I love seeing how others are applying my recipes, tips and tricks!