10 Subtle Signs That You Need To Change Your Diet

Diet is extremely difficult to assess, as there is no test or easy way to know if the food you eat is nutritious enough to promote long-term health and simultaneously doesn't cause negative effects, such as excess weight gain. In order to get our nutrition right, we need to learn to carefully listen to our body and make further changes to our diet mindfully and methodically.
Of course, there are more clear-cut cases, too, like when you eat too much chocolate one day and get a pimple on your chin the very next morning, but in most cases, your body is telling you that something is wrong with your diet in subtler ways. Any of the 10 easy-to-miss signs we're listing below could point to an unhealthy diet or some nutrient deficiency, so if you're experiencing any of these habits or symptoms and they cannot be explained by another health issue, consider giving your diet a second look.

1. You Snack All the Time

Signs of an Unhealthy Diet snack
Are you constantly looking for a snack in-between meals, so much so that you find yourself eating an entire bag of chips or several cookies at a time? Many people tend to feel guilty when they do this, writing these cravings off as a lack of willpower. Despite what you may think, craving snacks, especially unhealthy ones, could be a sign that you're not getting enough nutrients from your actual meals instead.
So, instead of blaming yourself, take these cravings as a sign that you might need to enrich your diet with vitamins and other nutrients. A good starting point here would be to replace those chips and cookies with snack foods high in beneficial nutrients, such as a handful of mixed nuts, your favorite fruit, or vegetables dipped in hummus or salsa.

2. Bad Taste or Smell in the Mouth

Signs of an Unhealthy Diet bad mouth smell
Mouth odor, dental problems, and a bad taste in the mouth, too, can point to certain problems in your diet. Let's begin with dental problems: bleeding gums, gum disease, and even tooth loss can be brought about a systemic lack of vitamin C in the diet. A bad taste or smell in the mouth, in turn, could mean you're actually not eating enough carbohydrates. Bad breath can happen when your body is not getting enough carbs and starts burning fat and protein to produce its own carbs. Both of these issues could be easily fixed with a higher intake of fruit in your diet.

3. You Catch a Cold and the Flu Very Easily

Signs of an Unhealthy Diet sick woman in bed with medication
If you get sick every flu season very easily, you might start thinking that you're not getting enough vitamin C in your diet. And while vitamins play an important role in maintaining healthy immunity, it's often a deficiency in a different nutrient altogether that might be making you prone to seasonal colds and the flu. Those nutrients are proteins, the building blocks of our cells.
Certain proteins, such as cytokines and antibodies, for example, play a key role in our immune response, but when someone's diet is too low in proteins, the body can begin to utilize those immune proteins to produce energy, albeit leaving us with a much lower ability to resist pathogens. If you get sick easily, try including more protein-rich foods, such as dairy, legumes, soy products, and of course, lean meat or fish in your daily diet.

4. Skin and Hair Problems

Signs of an Unhealthy Diet woman applying face mask
Your appearance can reveal a lot about the quality of your diet as well. If you find that your hair, skin, and nails became more brittle, dry, and pale, for example, you might be lacking such nutrients as iron, vitamin C, folate, or you might be chronically dehydrated. Your skin in particular may also start being more irritable, acne-prone, and red when your diet is off the mark. 
A diet overwhelmed by sweet foods and carbs in general, and low in healthy fats, for example, can make your skin more acne-prone and irritated. So, consider dialing down the sweets and including more omega fats in your diet by eating more nuts, avocados, and fish if you observe these issues.

5. You Get Hangry

Signs of an Unhealthy Diet irritated man
Does missing a meal by just a few minutes make you crabby? Well, that's a very common reaction among people who are in the process of changing their diet and those who don't get enough carbs. The reason why this happens is that changing the diet often alters hormone levels and blood sugar levels, which will take time to adjust.
The way to prevent yourself from getting "hangry", you can try adding a bit more carbs into your actual meals (and not snacking on sugary stuff in-between meals). These nutrients are the first to be absorbed into the bloodstream and cause a spike in serotonin levels in the body, which will make you feel happier and calmer in-between meals.

6. Brain Fog

Signs of an Unhealthy Diet brain fog
While some foods can really help you boost your brain's performance for years on end, others do the opposite, and it just so happens that the latter are the foods we often indulge in when we need an urgent snack or a quick meal. When it comes to the stuff that affects our memory and brain's performance the most, saturated fats, such as butter and fried foods, tend to do the most harm.
In one study, it was shown that women who ate fast food and butter the most also scored the lowest on various cognitive tests, while those women who ate the least of these foods got the best results. So, if you experience that your brain just doesn't work right sometimes, try eliminating foods that contain a lot of saturated fat and replacing them with antioxidant-rich foods, especially those that contain a lot of flavonoids, such as apples, berries, spinach, and tomatoes.

7. Your Fitness Journey Hit a Plateau

Signs of an Unhealthy Diet weight
For those of you who are either on a weight loss journey, you might notice that your results have started to diminish and hit a plateau after some time, no matter how much your extend and complicate your exercise routine or how well you're trying to keep to a specific diet's recommendation. If this is the case with you, the reason why you can't get the results you seek may and often does lie in your diet.  
One of the common reasons why your progress came to a halt is an abrupt switch from a high-carb diet to a low-carb one. Dietitians point out that suddenly switching to a low-carb diet can actually make you gain weight sometimes, so you'll need to reintroduce a little more of them into your diet once or twice a week to continue making progress. To do so, simply eat an extra piece of fruit or another slice of full-grain bread for a few weeks. With time, once your body balances itself out, you'll be able to take out those extra carbs if you'd like.

8. Indigestion

Signs of an Unhealthy Diet stomachache
Do you feel digestive discomfort often after a meal? This often happens with people who are trying to change their diet, and these sudden changes can point to several different issues. If you've started incorporating more grains and legumes in your diet, your body may just have difficulty adjusting to the fiber-rich diet and experience bloating and flatulence. If this is the case with you, introducing fiber-rich foods more gradually and simply sipping on water with your meal should help you feel better, as water will help that fiber move from your system more quickly. 
If you're doing the opposite and trying to decrease the quantity of carb-rich foods in your diet by eating less fruit and bread, for example, you will be also lowering your fiber intake, possibly even below the recommended daily 28 grams. This, in turn, can cause digestive issues, too, such as diarrhea or constipation. You'll need to add more fiber-rich vegetables and legumes to mitigate this issue.

9. Fatigue and Headaches

Signs of an Unhealthy Diet fatigue
The problem with many weight loss diet plans is that they require you to eat very little compared to what your body is used to having, which ends up messing up your blood sugar levels and hormone levels. As a result, you might start feeling tired, drained, or even start getting daily headaches. If you find this is the case with you, try to be more democratic with your diet regimen and include a bit more fruit and healthy snacks in your diet to get that serotonin boost.
If, however, you haven't changed anything in your diet lately, and yet you feel the same symptoms with no underlying health issues, the culprits behind your poor wellbeing may actually be processed and sugary foods, and eating less or excluding them altogether might really help.

10. Frequent Urination

Signs of an Unhealthy Diet incontinence
As with any of these symptoms, frequent urination can point to several different health issues, but it's when all of those issues have been ruled out and you still can't find the cause of the issue that you start changing your diet and considering poor nutrition as the primary cause. That being said, frequent urination is a very common sign that one's diet is overly abundant in sugar.
The reason why sugary foods make for more frequent bathroom visits is due to the fact that much of the excess sugar is processed through the kidneys, and high-sugar foods will actually take a toll on your kidneys and make them less effective at eliminating waste products, hence the necessity to use the bathroom more often. To get rid of this issue, cut out the sugary foods from your diet, or at least reduce their intake by at least half.
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