Episode 300: 4 Things I've Changed About My Diet

Since the Nutrition Diva podcast debuted in 2008, new research has challenged a lot of the conventional wisdom on nutrition. How have my eating habits evolved over the past 6 years?

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
Episode #300

3. I no longer use canola oil. Unlike my intake of grains and meat, which has decreased gradually over the years, I basically stopped using canola oil the day I wrote Episode #124, which talks about what happens to oils when you heat them.  As I learned while researching that episode, polyunsaturated fats--even those with really high smoke points--can create harmful compounds when you heat them.

Some changes are worth making because the stakes are high. Others are worth making because they're just not that difficult. 

Up until then, I was a canola fan. As I wrote in episode #50"canola is high in monounsaturated fats--the healthiest kind of fats--and it’s a better choice than olive oil when you want a neutral flavor." And although canola is much higher in monounsaturated fats than most vegetable oil, it's still almost 30% polyunsaturated. When I realized that, I stopped using it.

Some changes are worth making because the stakes are high. Others are worth making because they're just not that difficult. This change definitely belongs to the latter category. I don't think that continuing to cook with canola would kill me (or you.) But replacing canola with butter, coconut or olive oil was a really easy way to eliminate this concern.

4. I have learned to leave foods I don't want to eat at the store. I eat a lot less junk food than I used to. This isn't because I changed my mind about junk food. I knew six years ago that chips, pretzels, cookies, and ice cream weren't nutritious. What changed was my behavior: I stopped bringing these foods into my house. 

I used to always have a carton of ice cream in the freezer, a bag of pretzels on top of the fridge, and a box of cookies in the cupboard. As soon as we finished one, I'd put it on the grocery list to replace. You know: just in case company stops by. 

Who was I kidding? If they were in the house, they got opened. And once they were open, they got eaten. It was a simple as that. And if I told you that they were always consumed in moderation, I'd be a liar. 

See also: Why We Overeat

So I decided to take the advice I'd been handing out for years. I stopped putting these things in my grocery cart. I stocked up on more nutritious snacks, such as raw veggies, hummus, and popcorn. I replaced the cookies and ice cream with dark chocolate, which, unlike ice cream, I can actually consume in moderation. 

This was a simple behavioral shift, not a conceptual one. But it nonetheless had a profound impact on my diet. If you've heard this advice before but never actually put it into action, I would encourage you to give it a try. Exercise your will power once a week at the grocery store, and you won't have to stare down that bag of chips every night at 9pm.

See also: How to Overcome an Unsupportive Environment

How Has YOUR Diet Changed?

And now it's your turn! Whether you've been listening since episode #1, or have joined the gang more recently, how has your diet changed--either because of something you heard here or elsewhere? What one change could you make today that would have the biggest impact on your nutrition? Let us know!

Photos of online nutrition info and fresh veggies courtesy of Shutterstock.


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show. 

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