Diets and Nutrition: Why Quality and Consistency Counts?

Food and cuisines, our alimentation, are often joys, sensory pleasures, cultural rituals, and representations, and even anchors …like a form of tradition.

Food festivities and menus may often be linked to pleasure centers in our brain.

Christmas = Feast

Chinese New Year = Snacks and food ‘goodies’

Birthdays = Creams and Cakes

Day to day basis, planning, cooking, and wondering what to eat next can feel like …. a chore.

Once, a constant traveler friend of mine got so tired of eating, he went on a coconut water fast for many days!

Hello 2023 (Pic by Gerd Altmann)

Hello 2023 (Pic by Gerd Altmann)

I once went on a liquid diet with daily edemas for 4 days at a health detox retreat supervised by a medical doctor. I wanted to detox and allow my digestive system to gain some rest and be cleansed.

Lunch and dinner were soups and breakfast were olive oil with orange juice.

Tough time!

All I could think about then was, “When is the next soup or brown rice teatime”?

On the second day, I didn’t even have energy to do Tai Chi or Yoga. I could only…  vegetate.

On the fifth day, my skin was glowing, and I felt generally fine and was slowly getting used to eating less. It was the first time I stopped the daily coffee habit for almost a week. Liquid food is not my meal preference, but I could handle it afterall.

Whether you are a foodie or just eating to survive, some potentially good questions to ask ourselves:

Am I getting enough nutrients in the food I tend to choose?

How beneficial are my regular diets and food choices?

Could I eat to make my body and mood feel better?

Food Sensitivity

Apart from my lactose intolerance, a nutritionist cum naturopath did a test once to know what my food sensitivity are, i.e., food that cause stress to my digestive and immune system. He explained that when my body deal with such foods, they deplete my energy resources and reduce the absorption of other nutrients which are crucial to enzyme and metabolic function.

It seems that taking supplements every 2 days or 4 times weekly is fine, a daily intake of supplements is not necessary if you are putting efforts to eat well and healthy.

What are those foods that I might be sensitive to?

Rather shocking. They are walnuts, rice (Asians = Rice…I am not fully able to believe in this one actually), corn, beef, green bean, pale melon, and 3 main nightshades. He describes most corn as ‘dirty’, meaning that it is GMO, and it is much less beneficial than non- GMO ones from South America.

I could not avoid rice for even 3 days. However, what I did was to reduce my intake of rice carbs and the nightshades.

A list of other nutrients that can optimize my health are Omega 3, Omega 6, Aspartic Acid, Alanine, Tyrosine, Isoleucine, Chromium, Vitamin B5, B6, B12, Flavonoids, Magnesium, Anthocyanidins and Vitamin C.

Planning diets containing food rich in the needed nutrients take effort. Access to fresh sustainable food can be challenging as well.

I decided that adding the missing nutrients in the form of supplements will help my nutrition on a regular basis. Supplements work!

Here is a simple checklist tool to help track health symptoms.

Symptoms Checklist (Rating Scale from 1 to 10)

(Pls note that this isn’t for research or scoring purposes but for personal reference on what symptoms could be relevant in your observations.)

  • Tiredness
  • Temperamental
  • A little Snappy
  • A little Emotional
  • Food doesn’t digest
  • Short Term Memory
  • Sugar Cravings
  • Libido
  • Cold Hands or Feet
  • Feelings of Hopelessness
  • Migraine
  • Thrush
  • Bowel Movements
  • Constipation
  • Appetite
  • Acne
  • Voice
  • Highly Strung
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Sleep Patterns
  • Number of Hours of Sleep
  • Restless Legs
  • Lower Back Pain
  • Wind/Bloating

Intuitive versus Impulse Eating

When I need a break from eating the same foods or purposeful shopping with my nutrition in mind, using intuitive eating can be a way to go about replenishing the missing nutrients.

Listening to your bodily craving can show us what we need to feel better physically and mentally.

Craving for chocolates could mean that I’m needing Magnesium or having a sugar craving which indicates a blood sugar imbalance.

Feeling a need to go for sushi or snacking on nuts means that my body needs some omegas or B12.

Fresh Groceries by Ian Wilson

Fresh Groceries (Pic by Ian Wilson)

Emotional eating or binging, to avoid certain feelings or numb to make us feel better isn’t intuitive. That is an impulse. In fact, emotional eating may cause imbalance to our gut brain (i.e., the probiotics and microbiomes in our gut).

This leads us to the ‘bad guy’ Sugar, which has been researched and found to be bad for physical health. There is much research on why cutting down or stopping sugar can improve our health, susceptibility to diseases, and reduces the need to impulse eat.

I love probiotic food and find some evidence on why rebalancing the gut via healthy probiotic food (non-pasteurized fermented goodies like Kim Chi, Yoghurt, Kombucha, Keffir, Sauerkraut) (Mcfarland, 2018) and fiber rich food (legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains) are beneficial. (Soliman, 2019) (Shah, 2020).

Deficiency in nutrients is shown to contribute to mental conditions

In this almost 5000 sample size study, Owczarek et al. 2022 stated:

“Following observations are consistent with other studies which demonstrated that low intakes of vitamins and minerals are associated with higher risk of experiencing psychiatric problems (Rao et al., 2008). For example, insufficient intake of magnesium may contribute to increased neuron damage (Kaner et al., 2015), whereas inadequate dietary zinc and iron status (Lehto et al., 2013Kaner et al., 2015) were suggested to negatively impact overall brain function (Bodnar and Wisner, 2005). These effects have been supported by experimental studies, which also demonstrated the relationship between low intakes of zinc and selenium within diet and increased severity of depression-like symptoms (Grønli et al., 2013Li et al., 2018).

I had an acquaintance who was severely depressed, he could not understand why he could be hit by a sudden bout of major depression. He lost weight, sleep and became moody. He could not get out of bed. He tried to see many doctors for help.

A blood test later revealed that the issue was a B12 deficiency (I do not know if he consumed alcohol heavily to cause a severe depletion of B12). The medical cure was an immediate B12 injection then regular supplements. He was well the next day.

Wishing all a healthy 2023!

Disclaimer: Please do see a qualified nutritionist if you feel your symptoms are chronic and you want support and advice on your dietary planning. This article is based on my personal experience and desire for nutritional referencing to understand what might work.


  • McFarland Lynne V., Evans Charlesnika T., Goldstein Ellie J. C. (2018), Strain-Specificity and Disease-Specificity of Probiotic Efficacy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in Medicine Journal. Vol 5
  • Owczarek et al. 2022, Nutrient deficiency profiles and depression: A latent class analysis study of American population”, Journal of Affective Disorders, Volume 317, 2022, pp.339-346, (
  • Shah BR, Li B, Al Sabbah H, Xu W, Mráz J. Effects of prebiotic dietary fibres and probiotics on human health: With special focus on recent advancement in their encapsulated formulations. Trends Food Sci Technol. 2020 Aug;102:178-192. doi: 10.1016/j.tifs.2020.06.010. Epub 2020 Jun 23. PMID: 32834500; PMCID: PMC7309926.
  • Soliman G.A. Dietary fibre, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease. Nutrients. 2019;11(5):1155. [
  • Wu, L. Zhang, S. Li, D. Zhang Associations of dietary vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 with the risk of depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Nutr. Rev., 80 (3) (2021), pp. 351-366