The importance of healthy eating and the knowledge that I am not eating properly has impacted the way I look at food, but it has not yet translated into my daily food intake. Because I prefer grains and dairy products, I tend to snack and base my meals on these foods and have not yet added the necessary fruits and vegetables into my diet.
According to the basics of the food pyramid (2007), I should be getting 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Because I do not like the texture or taste of these food products, I have not yet increased my intake. Even though I know that increasing these items in my diet will help improve not only my overall dietary requirements, but also improve my nutrient consumption, I have not been able to force myself to eat things that I do not like. Instead, I have chosen to begin taking a multi-vitamin supplement to make certain that I am meeting my nutritional needs.
One of the other drawbacks I had noticed in my diet was that I did not consume enough lean mean and beans on a regular basis. I am willing to eat more lean beef and chicken and have improved this some, my protein intakes are still lower than they should be on most days. Using the pyramid tracker online (2007), I have discovered that my enjoyment of carbohydrates is leading to my exceeding the recommended calorie intake for me and have not been meeting my nutritional needs.
One of the things I was surprised by was that I was not getting sufficient fiber. I discovered this was because I was eating white breads and crackers and carbohydrates made from processed grains instead of whole grains. I have been able to rectify this somewhat by simply changing to whole wheat crackers and bread. I have also added peanut butter to my crackers as a mid-morning snack and added another glass of milk with my crackers to make certain that I am meeting my dietary dairy needs.
Because of this class, I am more aware of my food choices and have made a conscious effort to include more of the fruits into my diet. I had hoped at the beginning of the class that I would be able to modify my eating schedule and add fruits as a form of breakfast. I have not yet been able to do this. I am considering purchasing fruit juice to keep as a drink; Even if I only drink a few ounces of juice, this would be an improvement in that I don’t eat breakfast at all currently and I consume too few fruits.
As I do not like vegetables in general, I am also considering the possibility of juices like V8 which are fortified with vegetables. Though I dislike this flavor as well, it avoids the texture issue I have with eating vegetables and it means I can reach my recommended daily allowance of vegetables without having to actually eat them.
Furthermore, I have decided to keep baby carrots as a snack and attempt to eat them instead of crackers at some snack times in an effort to increase my vegetable consumption. I have also tried sliced apples with peanut butter as a snack to increase both my fruit consumption and my protein consumption. I have not particularly enjoyed these snack changes and have found that I fall easily back into my old eating patterns. Because I prefer grains and dairy, I have found that my fat and cholesterol intake are not terribly high, but neither is my nutrition (Tracker, 2007).
Switching to whole grains has improved my fiber intake and because many grains are fortified, I am making inroads toward meeting my nutritional needs. I am currently doing so via taking a multi-vitamin, but because of this class, I am aware that it is much healthier to get my vitamins through food instead of pills. As such, I am trying to modify my diet to eat more iron-rich foods including red meat and vegetables, but I find that eating vegetables is very difficult.
I have managed to force myself to begin eating smaller meals more frequently as a way to manage hunger and blood sugar levels, preventing binge eating and over-eating. I am hoping that these modifications to my diet will help to improve my overall energy levels and health.
I have also been trying to get more exercise on the weekends as a means of improving my overall health and controlling weight gain. Based on my analysis of my diet and activity levels at the beginning of the class, it is clear that I have been gaining weight regularly because I take in almost 700 calories per day more than is recommended for me. Furthermore, my lifestyle is more sedentary than even I realized and that contributes to both my lack of energy and my weight gain.
Through the week I get some exercise via work, including a lot of walking, but on the weekends when I am largely devoted to my studies, my time is spent mostly working on a computer and studying. Neither of those activities use significant amounts of calories and help me to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Recently, to combat this I have begun taking a break every three to four hours from studying or other leisure activities on the weekend and going for a short walk. The 15 minutes walk helps reenergize me and clear my mind for the next bout of studying.
I am also hoping that as I continue to do this I will be able to significantly increase my energy levels so that I do not feel so drained when I come in from work at night. I sued to enjoying working out with weights and believe that I could enjoy this again if I could simply motivate myself to go. Usually, by the time I am finished with a day’s work, I am more interested in relaxing than worrying about my health and fitness level. As I am not a morning person, the idea of getting to the gym before work in the morning is out of the question.
Instead, I have decided to try to add a relaxing stroll either on my lunch hour or after dinner in the evenings as a way of increasing my overall fitness. I believe that improving my base fitness levels will lead to more energy and more desire to continue to increase my level of activity. As it stands now, I rarely get anything more than light activity and then only in short bursts. I believe that based on the things we have learned, if I increase each of those activities each day, I will soon be to the point where I can add moderate activity at least a few days a week.
The most important things I have learned from this class is an eyes-open evaluation of my life. While I have not chosen yet to modify my lifestyle to what it needs to be, I am aware now of my failings and what steps will need to be taken to improve my lifestyle. I realize that my low energy levels are caused by my eating schedule and poor nutrition and that by improving what and when I eat, I can give myself more energy and be more active. I realize that every time I choose inaction over action I allow my body to become less fit and that fitness contributes to energy levels. I have found the resources, via the food pyramid and pyramid tracker on line to keep daily records and evaluate my progress. In short, this class has given me the tools necessary to live a healthy life and now I simply need to motivate myself to do it.
List of References
http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/nal_display/index.php?info_center=4&tax_level=2&tax_subject=256&topic_id=1342, USDA Food & Nutrition Information Center, June 17, 2007.