When paying close attention to my diet, it becomes obvious very quickly that I do not get enough calcium in my diet. I am slightly low in other area, such as my Vitamin A and iron, but I am drastically low in my intake of calcium. The problem is that I truly don’t like milk. I will drink chocolate milk on occasion and will eat some milk-based products including ice cream, yogurt and cheeses, but I do not eat enough of these to get my recommended daily allowance of calcium.
My intake of fruits is just about right, though it can be a bit on the high side when I choose to drink juice instead of eating whole fruits. I prefer fruit juice as a method of consuming fruits largely because it is simple and quick. Grabbing a glass of juice on the way out of the house in the morning is my favorite form of breakfast. The problem is that most juices also come with more sugar and calories than the raw firm fruit. I have decided to substitute fresh fruit for my fruit juice as a way to minimize my calorie intact and increase my fiber intake.
My fiber content is generally pretty good because I prefer whole grains to white grains, white rice and potatoes. Some days by intake of grains is low because I choose to eat more salads and vegetables, but on other days it can be within the normal range. On average, it is a little on the low side, but not so bad that I think I need to change it. I consume plenty of lean protein, mostly in the form of chicken, so I have not had any problems with my cholesterol or overall far intake.
However, because I consume red meat rarely and do not eat enough dark green vegetables, the amount of iron I consume on a regular basis is not sufficient. I am not willing to eat liver or many other high iron foods, so I had to go searching for new options for iron intake. What I discovered were baby spinach and broccoli. I will eat baby spinach as part of a salad and broccoli is one of the few vegetables that I truly enjoy. I was happy to discover that broccoli is also high in Vitamin A, another nutrient that I did not have enough of in my diet analysis.
I was happy to discover that I probably don’t need the multi-vitamin I have been taking except for the iron supplement. I might need the Vitamin A as well, but otherwise, I seem to be meeting my basic health needs for minerals and vitamins. I think it is very important to change my iron and Vitamin A intake as both are imperative for blood health and I have recently been told that I might be borderline anemic.
Since I have previously had to take iron pills and found them disgusting and nauseating, I have decided it is important to add iron to my diet in a natural manner. I have changed my lunch menu to include baby spinach salads and added broccoli to several meals per week. I have also decided to add additional red meat to my diet until my iron levels are acceptable. Vitamin A is also an antioxidant, helping to cleanse the body from cancer-causing chemicals and other contaminents. This is another advantage of adding more broccoli to my diet. Broccoli is also very high in Vitamin A which is an added bonus.
These changes have worked fairly well so far and I have not noticed any real difference in my energy levels, but the doctor did say that returning my iron levels to normal would take some time. What I have noticed is that I am enjoying my meals more. They take slightly longer to prepared, but instead of thrown together meals on the run, I am actually thinking about what I eat and when. Knowing that I am eating healthier makes me feel better about myself, regardless of whether it effects my overall energy level. In addition, I believe it means that I will eventually see the results on the scale and I know that I will see it in my next blood tests.
Now that I have made these changes, my next goals are to eliminate more of the processed food from my diet, substitute whole fruits for juice, and try portion control. Generally, I have not under consumed anything except vegetables and milk and have regularly over consumes fruits, grains and even proteins, depending on the day. Some days I would have too much of one, some days another.
My plan is to actually cook more of my food myself, instead of relying on drive-thrus or grab-n-go food options. By choosing fewer canned foods and more fresh fruits and vegetables, I will cut my intake of unneeded fats and sodium and retain more of the natural vitamins in the foods I eat.
I have also decided that I will replace my fruit juice with whole fruit, even though fruit takes a bit more effort. Again, I will be losing unnecessary additives and retaining more of the natural nutrients of my food. To supplement this process, I will begin actually eating breakfast rather than drinking soda or juice as my morning meal. My initial intention is to use yogurt and cheese as staples of this meal to both increase my calcium intake and to provide a good protein base for the morning meal.
The third major change I intend to make in my diet is in the form of portion control. I will be subdividing large packages when I buy them as a way to keep from overeating various treats and will be measuring my grains and proteins so that I can be assured that I am eating a healthy amount of these things, not several servings at one time. I believe this will be especially useful with snack foods and cereal which are easy to not measure and eat too much of.
I believe that taking these actions will ultimately lead to wait loss as I teach my body to eat the proper amounts of nutrients and the proper amount of calories, rather than letting my appetite determine what I consume. I have also begun to shop healthier, forgoing potato chips and cookies in favor of carrots and walnuts as quick snacks. I have found that within just a week of making these changes, my desire for sugary and fatty snacks began to fade and I actually wanted to eat vegetables.
The one thing that has been hard to resist has been ranch dressing for dipping the carrot sticks in, but I have begun to appreciate the inherent sweetness of carrots and find myself reaching for them when I want something sweet. They also have a satisfying crunch that I formerly got from potato and corn chips.
In short, I believe my diet was not particularly bad, but it had room for tweaking and improving. Now, I know that I am getting my recommended daily nutrients without having to take a vitamin supplement and I am enjoying my food more. Previously, I had grabbed food in front of the television or while walking out the door and often did not pay attention to what I was consuming. Now, I am confident that I eat when I am hungry and I am teaching my body to appreciate more than just corn chips and soda.