Signs it’s time to for a dietary change

Fruge says brain fog, difficulty concentrating, or an afternoon low that impacts your performance can signal that it’s time for a change.

“A simple telltale tip I use to engage young people is to ask them how they feel on an average day,” she said. “For example, do you need coffee, sugar, or energy drinks to become functional in the morning, or by noon, or to continue through your afternoon?”

Fruge says that many people, especially younger people, enjoy using technology to track health improvements and organize health data.

For example, the healthy food for life calculator used in the study, as well as mindful awareness tools and wearable trackers with alarms as reminders, can be useful and entertaining ways to make important dietary changes.

“It is never too early and never too late for anyone who is motivated to make simple nutritional changes that have powerful and often life-changing effects on both long and short term health,” Fruge said.

Tips for switching diets

Kirkpatrick offers a number of tips to help people switch from a traditional Western diet to a more plant-based approach.

Here are some of them.

Eat real food

Kirkpatrick’s advice is to focus on eating food that she says is defined by Michael Pollan as something that comes from nature, is fed from nature, and eventually rots at least 85 percent of the time.

“So eat more food, and of that food, make a lot of those choices derived from plants,” Kirkpatrick said to Healthline.

Swap animal for plant protein

Kirkpatrick also suggests starting to transition from animal proteins (meat) to plants.

For example, having a chickpea burger instead of a cheeseburger.

“You can even go with more fatty wild fish (such as salmon) as well,” she said. “Though not a plant, the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids can be obtained in certain fish.”

Kirkpatrick adds that food color reflects nutrient density, so aiming for at least five colors every day can help to achieve a diet that’s more focused on fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Choose unsaturated oils

Kirkpatrick also recommends unsaturated oils.

Unsaturated oils can fall into one of two categories: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

The American Heart AssociationTrusted Source says both kinds of unsaturated fats can help improve your blood cholesterol when used in place of saturated and trans fats.

The organization also notes that liquid vegetable oils, like soybean, corn, safflower, canola, olive, and sunflower, contain unsaturated fats.

“I love extra virgin olive oil for its many benefits and culinary usage,” said Kirkpatrick.