1. You rarely get “hangry”
Getting in touch with how eating makes you feel, both physically and emotionally, is the key tool that will help you assess your nutritional habits. This can be tough at first, especially if you’ve been dieting for a while, but try to get in the habit of asking yourself how you feel right after a meal and a few hours later.
A person with healthy eating patterns will feel full but not stuffed, satisfied, and satiated after a meal. Healthy food components like protein, fiber, and fats will also keep your body full of energy for hours too.
On the flip side, unhealthy eating patterns can lead to spikes and drops in blood sugar that can leave you with that sensation of "hanger," or irritation when you’re hungry. You may also feel like, no matter how much you eat, you’re not completely full or satisfied with your meal.
2. Your hair is strong and shiny
Good hair is a relative term. Some of us were genetically blessed with thick hair and luscious locks, whereas others have finer, silkier hair strands by nature. However, even those with the densest mane can notice signs of hair malnutrition: a matted appearance, brittleness, and broken ends.
Strong and shiny hair is the opposite of that. It is a sign of vitality and a diet rich in nourishing protein and plant fats. So, even if you’ve always had finer hair, but your strands remain shiny and strong, you’re surely doing something right.
A 2019 study also showed that prematurely graying or thinning hair can be a sign of vitamin deficiency. So, if you notice lots of grey hair strands popping up much earlier than is normal in your family, or you lose more than 100 hair strands a day, getting your vitamin levels checked may be a good idea.
3. Your skin quickly recovers from cuts and scrapes
Your skin is often a reflection of your diet. When you eat well, you should be getting all the key vitamins, including vitamins C and K, both of which are involved in skin healing. When you get enough of these essential vitamins, your skin restores itself from injury quite fast and is less likely to bruise easily.
To give you some perspective, a minor cut or scrape covered with a bandage should be gone in around 1 week. If minor wounds heal quite quickly and you never notice random bruises on your skin, this means that your body is getting plenty of these important vitamins and other nutrients.
4. You’ve got healthy nails
Your fingernails can reveal a great many things about your health, including the quality of your nutrition. Strong nails with a smooth surface and high flexibility are a sign of a healthy diet. A rough, ridged nail texture, or nails that break very easily can indicate a deficiency in iron or B vitamins.
Keep in mind, however, that many other factors - from cleaning chemicals to nail polish remover - can influence the appearance of your nails too. So please don’t mistake a single broken fingernail as an omen of an unhealthy diet.
5. You sleep like a log
The connection between nutrition and sleep may not be apparent at first, but your eating habits greatly influence sleep quality, even if you’re not fully aware of it. Hunger can make it tough to fall asleep and stay asleep, whereas going to bed with a full stomach can reduce your overall quality of sleep, making you wake up tired and not energized.
As Dr. Ana Krieger, the Medical Director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at New York-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine said to NBC News, "Eating healthy and allowing the body to absorb proper nutrients provides the brain with the chemical environment that it needs to produce the neurotransmitters that it needs to maintain adequate sleep."
And this makes perfect sense, as the body needs all sorts of nutrients to generate these sleep hormones, or ‘neurotransmitters’, and maintain our natural sleep-wake cycles.
Related article: 6 Nutrition Tips From Experts to Ensure Better Sleep
6. You can dodge and recover from viruses
While there is no magic cure for seasonal viral infections you could eat or drink, a solid nutritional plan will ensure that your immune system has all the ingredients it needs - from vitamins to proteins to antioxidants - to keep your body safe from viruses and clear those pesky ones that do manage to break through the body’s immune defenses.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, an adult should recover from a typical cold in around 7 days, give or take a few days. If you rarely get sick for longer than a week, your nutrition must be in tip-top shape.
7. Bowel movements arrive like clockwork
Having a regular bowel movement (BM) means something else to different people. Some run to the bathroom a few times a day, whereas others only go a few times a week. As long as you can trace a regular pattern within this frame and don’t experience any other unpleasant digestive symptoms, you’re probably doing fine. In fact, regular BMs mean that your diet is "healthier" than you may think!
The stuff in our foods that can help ensure regular BMs is fiber. This fiber can come from whole grains, fresh fruit and veg, nuts, and water, and it plays several important functions in your digestion. We enumerate all of these functions here - 25 Facts About Dietary Fiber Everyone Should Know.
8. You have enough energy throughout the day
This point is pretty simple, but also really important: when you're eating enough food, including different types of ingredients, you'll feel a normal level of energy throughout your day. According to a 2020 study, people who have enough energy to complete daily activities are probably getting all the vitamins and minerals they need.
After all, in the simplest of terms, food is fuel for the body, and it should be enough to fuel your body for whatever it needs to do throughout the date.
Related article: The 7 Nutrition Myths That Experts Want You to Forget
Ways to Improve Your Diet
Before we move on to nutrition tips, we’d like to remind you that a doctor can also help you identify other important signs of poor nutrition, such as blood levels of vitamins, cholesterol levels, etc. If you suspect that something’s wrong, consult your physician.
Now, to wrap up, here are a few helpful nutrition tips:
- Vary the fruits and vegetables from time to time, so you get a greater variety of nutrients
- No matter the meal, fill half of the plate with vegetables or fruits
- Consume plenty of protein-rich foods, including fish and legumes (beans, lentils, etc.)
- Make sure that at least half of the grains you consume are whole grains (e.g. brown rice instead of white rice, whole wheat bread in place of white bread)
- Focusing on whole vegetables and fruits rather than sauces, smoothies, or juices.
H/T: The Healthy, Business Insider, Fit Day