A healthy diet is NOT only low-sugar, low-fat, low-salt and low in everything. Yes, due to the ever-increasing prevalence of non-chronic diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, a lot of us are overconsuming these nutrients and will result in poor health consequences in the long term. However, we should also never neglect the importance of getting the right nutrients, when we are trying our best to avoid the less needed ones. For the sake of education, I will skip through all the unnecessary nutrients we are probably overconsuming like fats, sodium, sugar and so on.
So, what else should I focus in a healthy diet?
Focus on the right nutrients you aren’t getting enough
Fiber, micronutrients like vitamins/minerals, and phytonutrients should also be adequately consumed through a variety of fruitful foods. These are commonly inadequate in our modern diet so do ensure that you get a variety of them in adequate amount. However, if you can logically understand that it is extremely hard for yourself to obtain these on a regular basis due to time/other factors, it is advisable that you consider supplement/convenient ways like snacks.
Understand your own goal and needs
A certain individual will have different needs, be it for general health, fitness, aesthetics or so on. Within general health, everyone should focus on different aspects because they may be genetically predisposed to different disease risk due to factors like family history, lifestyle, genetics and so on. For example, an individual with a strong family history of cardiovascular events, alongside with an inactive physical lifestyle, he or she should understand that in prolonged period they may be predisposed to higher risk of CVD. In view of these, heart-healthy nutrients like omega-3 fats should be emphasized.
How to understand your own nutrient deficiency
Unfortunately, there is no (maybe rare or extremely expensive) way to test your nutrient levels objectively. Measuring levels of calcium for example in your blood does not reflect your diet adequacy because these serum levels are tightly regulated. Meaning even if you consumed inadequately, the levels will still be normal because the body will extract calcium from bones to balance it up.
What happens is that you can’t notice anything in short term but over the long term, you may experience weak bones which will already be very late and unfavorable.
Hence, the only way you can do is to observe certain subjective symptoms (which is not specific) or get a professional to do a detailed dietary assessment for you. Even then, bear in mind that the assessment is only relatively accurate to the details of your reporting.
All in all, understand your goal clearly, focus on getting the right nutrients and pay specific attention according to your own body condition