Nutrition Tips to Improve your Health Without Dieting

Here are 5 nutrition tips to improve your health without dieting. These are a registered dietitian’s tips to improving your health without restricting your diet or focusing on weight loss. Unlike what diet culture will tell you, it is possible to improve your health and eat nourishing foods without dieting and restricting your diet. In…

hands holding a bowl of soup - tips to improve your health without dieting

Here are 5 nutrition tips to improve your health without dieting. These are a registered dietitian’s tips to improving your health without restricting your diet or focusing on weight loss.

hands holding a bowl of soup

Unlike what diet culture will tell you, it is possible to improve your health and eat nourishing foods without dieting and restricting your diet. In fact, focusing on health promoting behaviors, without dieting, is more likely to offer long-term benefits. Remember that your weight does not equal your health. In this post, you will find nutrition tips to support your health, no matter your size.

Before we get to the tips, let’s talk about the Health at Every Size® approach.

Health at Every Size® (HAES)

Health At Every Size® is a weight-inclusive approach to health. It doesn’t suggest that everyone is “healthy”, no matter their size. HAES® believes in the right for anyone to pursue health, no matter one’s size. You can learn more about HAES® and its principles here. I’m simply introducing the approach in this post for those who are interested in a weight-neutral and inclusive approach to nutrition.

In this post, I will simply be sharing a few of the many health-promoting behaviors that you can adopt, without focusing on weight.

Why you should think twice before starting another diet

You might be aware that diets don’t work long-term, but did you know that dieting can increase your risk of gaining more weight? This is part of what’s often referred to as “yo-yo dieting”. Most importantly, diets can negatively affect your relationship with food and increase your risk of nutrient deficiencies, disordered eating and more.

What happens when you restrict your diet?

  • You start craving the foods you limit or avoid.
  • Your body will adjust to eating fewer calories. This means it will become harder and harder to lose weight as your metabolism adjusts to the new “normal”.
  • Your body will produce less of the hormone leptin (which makes you feel full).
  • After a while, the weight stops going down and your hunger and cravings will become too strong to ignore.

You don’t have a lack of willpower. This is NOT your fault. Your body doesn’t know the different between dieting and food scarcity.

What should you do instead of dieting? Take the focus away from weight or restrictions and instead, focus on adding some health-promoting behaviors to your life. You can improve your health and nutrition without losing weight or restricting specific foods.

5 Nutrition Tips to Improve your Health Without Dieting

1. Eat More Plants

There’s no denying that fruits and vegetables are beneficial to our health. They’re full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. A good guide is to have half of your plate as vegetables for lunch and dinner. That being said, you don’t need to (and shouldn’t) aim for perfection. Simply try to add some fruits and vegetables at most meals.

Try having a side salad or simply roast, steam or grill your favorite vegetables. Make it interesting! Add flavor by using spices, herbs, sauces or a small pinch of salt. You can also try to replace meat with plant-based protein for a higher fiber option. Try using beans, lentils, tofu or tempeh! A high variety of plant-based foods offers many health benefits and promotes a healthy gut microbiome.

For more ideas on how to eat more vegetables, check out this post.

2. Add Healthy Fats to Your Meals

Fats are important to help us absorb fat-soluble vitamins and promote satiety at meals. Try focusing on adding unsaturated fats to your diet and add less focus on saturated and trans fats.

Sources of unsaturated fats: Olive oil, avocado oil, nuts, seeds, nut/seed butters, avocados.

Omega-3’s:  Most people get plenty of omega-6 (a type of unsaturated fat) in their diets, but many aren’t getting enough omega-3 fatty acids. You can get plant-based omega-3 fatty acids in your diet from ground flax seeds, flax oil, chia seeds, walnuts and hemp hearts. Another option, which can be more convenient and reliable is to take an EPA/DHA algae supplement. If you’re not vegan, you can get omega-3’s from fatty fish.

A few ways to add unsaturated fats:

  • Use olive oil or avocado oil during cooking
  • Add chia seeds or ground flax seeds to your oatmeal or smoothie
  • Sprinkle hemp hearts on your salads
  • Enjoy toasts or crackers with nut or seed butters
  • Top your toasts, salads and sandwiches with avocados
  • Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on your salad with balsamic vinegar and herbs for a simple dressing
  • Top your salads with olives

3. Choose Fiber-Rich Foods

Fiber is beneficial for the digestive system by helping you stay regular and can reduce your risk of colon cancer. It can help you feel full for longer and it can also help balance blood sugars, lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease.

You can reap the benefits of fiber without going on a restrictive diet – and as a matter of fact, many restrictive diets, such as the keto diet, can be extremely low in fiber.

Try adding some of these fiber-rich foods to your diet: Whole grain bread, pasta and crackers, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils.

A few ideas:

  • Snack on a handful of nuts and dried fruits
  • Choose whole grains most of the time (don’t aim for perfection!)
  • Add canned beans to your soup or chili
  • Add canned lentils to your pasta sauce
  • Try using chia seeds or ground flax seeds in your oatmeal or smoothie
  • Sprinkle hemp hearts on your salads and pasta dishes
  • Snack on crackers with nut or seed butters

4. Add variety to your Diet

Eating a variety of foods will ensure that you’re getting the nutrients that you need. It will also keep your diet fun and exciting.

Try to include a source of carbohydrates (carbs), protein and fat at every meal, in addition to vegetables for added fiber and antioxidants. Balancing your plate with protein, carbohydrates, fats and fiber will help you feel satisfied at meals, while ensuring that you’re getting the nutrients that you need.

Check out this post for tips on preparing balanced vegan meals.

5. Eat Enough

Last, but not least: Eat enough. Eating enough food every day will help you get the nutrients you need to feel your best. Instead of focusing on cutting out foods, focus on adding nutritious foods to your diet.

Eating enough throughout the day will also prevent a feeling of deprivation, which can increase cravings and the risk of binging in the evenings. Often, eating more during the day can actually prevent overeating. I recommend practicing intuitive eating if it’s possible for you. If you struggle with your relationship, getting support from a dietitian can be very important.


A final note: This post was focused on quick nutrition tips to support your health, but remember that health involves so much more than what we eat. Our health is affected by our stress levels, sleeping habits, movement, access to food and clean water, taking medication if needed, access to affordable and respectful health care and so much more. Eating a healthy diet is just a small part of the equation.


This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace individualized nutrition or medical advice.

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Comments

4 responses to “Nutrition Tips to Improve your Health Without Dieting”

  1. Rachel Avatar
    Rachel

    Very good advice Caroline! I agree with your top 5 tips. There is so much conflicting advice about food out there and it can feel overwhelming. Many of us eat emotionally and snacking has become a crutch. I think getting back to 3 meals a day, focussing on mainly whole foods, mostly plants, and not too much is the way to go. And remembering to be kind to ourselves!

    1. Nourished by Caroline Avatar

      Thank you so much Rachel! I’m happy you like it. And you’re right, it’s best to keep it simple and to be kind to ourselves. 🙂

  2. Megala Avatar

    An excellent post on stress that is both instructive and descriptive. Controlling stress at its source is critical; else, it can lead to a slew of health issues – Nidra Nutrition
    https://www.nidranutrition.com

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