Sunday, August 16, 2015

My Necessary Diet Changes

This is the tough part for me.  Making changes in my everyday diet.  I have to fess up to my weaknesses; fried foods, colas, bread, bread, and more bread!  I know I do not get enough vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins.  As you can see, I have no problem getting fats, sugars, and carbohydrates!  The biggest benefit I have in making changes to my eating habits is that I love any kind of food, cooked any kind of way.  I will not have a problem enjoying eating healthier foods cooked in healthier ways.  My biggest problem will be changing my cooking style, passing up fast food restaurants on busy days, and, oh yeah, my colas.  That will be the toughest for me.  I love that cool burn of a sweet, carbonated drink!

My first plan of action is to sit down and make out a grocery list, and stick to it!  (Another big problem that I have)  The list will include enough fresh vegatibles, fruits, lean meats, and low calorie carbohydrates to last me through the week.  I will also be taking my lunch to work each day.  I think a healthy salad will do for that!  I really need to think the cola thing out though.  I may allow myself a few 'diet' colas throughout the week, but will concentrate on drinking more water or flavored water.  I'll be checking out more healthy recipes too.  Like I said, it will be a challenge to change my cooking habits.  I did find some wonderful, healthy recipes from the Mayo Clinic's web site.  You can check them out at Mayo Clinic: Healthy Recipes.

I'm feeling pretty positive about making changes in my eating habits.  Next I will be tackeling the exercise issue.  One hurdle at a time though!

Necessary Nutrients - Macro and Micro

Our bodies require two types of nutrients; macro and micronutrients.
Macronutrients are protiens, carbohydrates, and fats.  "Proteins are fundamental components of all living cells and include many substances, such as enzymes, hormones, and antibodies, that are necessary for the proper functioning of an organism" (Unicef, Macronutrients and Micronutrients). Proteins can be obtained from eating meat, fish, eggs, and milk.  Carbohydrates serve as energy sources and can be obtained from eating foods that contain starch, sugar, and fiber (American Diabetes Association, Types of Carbohydrates).  Fats are organic compounds of glycerol and certain fatty acids and are obtained from meats, dairy products, and nuts (Unicef.  Macronutrients and Micronutrients).
Micronutrients are minerals, vitamins, and trace elements.  Vitamins include B's, C, D, E, and K.  Minerals include calcium, sulfur, iron, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, and magnesium.  Trace elements include chronium, cobalt, zinc, selenium, iodine, floride, maganese, silicon, boron, and copper (Unicef).  These are needed together in small amounts for chemical reactions to occur for our body functions (Unicef).


American Diabetes Association.  Types of Carbohydrates

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Unicef.  Macronutrients and Micronutrients.

      Retrieved from:

Digestion: The In's and the Out's!

Discussing nutrition would not be complete without talking about our digestive system.  Although not the most pleasant of subjects, it is important to understand what happens to the food we ingest to better understand the importance of eating healthy.

Mouth – This is where it all begins.  As we chew our food, our saliva helps break the food down, causing
more surface area which makes the food easier to digest (The Digestive System: Crash Course Biology

Esophagus – The esophagus is situated in the throat and uses contractions, called peristalsis, to help
push food down to the stomach (Cleveland Clinic. The Structure and Function of the Digestive System).

Stomach – The stomach is an empty container that holds food while enzymes break the food down into
portions that can be better used.  After these acids and enzymes do their job, the stomach releases the
food into the small intestine (Cleveland Clinic. The Structure and Function of the Digestive System).

Small intestine – The small intestine has three parts; the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum.  The small
intestine can be as long as 22 feet.  It uses enzymes from the liver that are released by the pancreas and
bile to further break down the food.  The duodenum continues the breaking down process and the
jejunum and ileum absorb nutrients into the blood stream (Cleveland Clinic. The Structure and Function of
the Digestive System).

Large Intestine – The large intestine is responsible for absorbing water from food that is not able to be
 Digested (NIH. Large Intestine).

Rectum – The end of the large intestine that allows undigested food to be expelled from the body.

Now, that wasn't so bad, was it?  As you can see, our body has a lot of work to do in order to absorb all the nutrients from the foods that we consume.  


Cleveland Clinic.  The Structure and Function of the Digestive System

      Retrieved from:

NIH.  U.S. National Library of Medicine. Medline Plus.  Large Intestine

      Retrieved from:

The Digestive System: Crash Course Biology #28

      Retrieved from:

The Consequences of Eating Unhealthy

We are bombarded with commercials for fast food.  Every franchise is in competition with each other.  They offer us quick food at cheap prices.    We find ready made meals, processed foods and frozen entrees at our local grocery store.  It's all so very convenient for the fast paced lives we all seem to be living.  I, for one, have fallen down this dark, delicious, fast food hole.   Unfortunately, these types of food can lead to health problems and obesity. This increases our chances of developing health problems.  "Being obese increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and some cancers" (NLM, Obesity).

Obesity isn't the only problem associated with poor eating habits.  Not providing your body with the proper nutrients can also lead to underweight and malnutrition.  People who are underweight could not live as long as someone who is of ideal weight, or even overweight, in case of a famine.  They tend to not do as well during medical tests and surgical procedures that require prior fasting (Sizer, Whitney, 2013, pg. 336).   Malnutrition can cause body organs to slowly shut down.

Our brains are also affected by not eating right.

      "Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain," said 
       Fernando Gmez-Pinilla, a UCLA professor of neurosurgery and physiological 
       science who has spent years studying the effects of food, exercise and sleep on
       the brain. "Diet, exercise and sleep have the potential to alter our brain health 
       and mental function. This raises the exciting possibility that changes in diet are
       a viable strategy for enhancing cognitive abilities, protecting the brain from damage 
       and counteracting the effects of aging"  (Wolpert, Science and Technology, 2008).
Eating a healthy diet can help ward off mental diseases such as depression and anxiety.

NIH.  Medline Plus.  Obesity

Sizer, F. & Whitney, E. (2013).  Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies (13th ed.).  Mason, OH: Cengage Learning

Wolpert, S. (2008).  UCLA News Room.  Scientists Learn how what you eat affects your brain - and those of your kids.
      Retrieved from:

What is a Healthy Diet and How Do Our Nutritional Needs Change?

So what should we eat to remain healthy?  The United States Department of Agriculture gives us tips on eating a healthy diet.  "Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products are healthy choices.  Include protein foods such as poultry, fish, beans, eggs, nuts and lean meats. Choose foods that are low in saturated fats, sodium, and added sugars" (USDA, ChooseMyPlate, Men and Women).  The FDA's website, Choose My Plate, will help you understand these food groups and how much per day you should be consuming.

Eating canned and prepackaged foods  is probably inevitable for most people so it is important to get familiar with what is in the canned and prepackaged foods that we buy.  According to the FDA, more than half of Americans read food labels the first time that they purchase it (FDA, Survey Shows Gains in Food Label Use, Health/Diet Awareness).  Food labels tell us how many calories per serving the food contains, as well as the percentage of sugars, fats, vitamins and nutrients.  

Our nutritional needs change at different stages of our lives.  

Pregnancy – Pregnancy is a time when special care should be taken to make sure nutritional needs are met.  The instinct to love and protect one’s child is so strong that many women will make healthy lifestyle changes that they will carry out throughout the rest of their lives.  During pregnancy, the focus is not only on the nutritional needs of the mother, but also the nutritional needs of the developing baby.  Most doctors will prescribe a special multi-vitamin, in addition to encouraging a healthy diet, to make sure that the mother is taking in the needed amount of vitamins and minerals.  During pregnancy a woman needs approximately 2-3 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, 6 ounces of protein, whole grain foods and milk (Seizer, Whitney, 2014).  Each woman is different and should consult with her doctor on the right amounts of these foods to meet her, and her baby’s, particular needs
Infancy – Infants experience a tremendous amount of growth and development during the first year so their nutritional needs are special.  Breast milk or formula provides an infant with all it will need nutritionally for the first four to six months, but should continue to be given breast mild or formula until 12 months old (March of Dimes, Feeding Your Baby).  Babies should start out eating iron fortified cereals and as they further develop be introduced to pureed baby foods and then later breads and soft cooked vegetables and fruits, and pureed meats (March of Dimes, Feeding Your Baby).
Childhood – During childhood we continue to experience tremendous growth and development.  Beginning at age 2, children need approximately 1000 calories a day.  By age four this increases to about 1200 for females and 1400 for males.  At age nine it increases to 1400 for females and 1600 or males (Seizer, Whitney, 2014).  These calories should be obtained by consuming healthy cooked proteins, fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy (Mayo Clinic, Children’s Health).
Adolescence – Depending on their energy output, female adolescents require between 1600 and 2400 calories a day.  Male adolescents require between 1800 and 3200 calories a day (California Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Adolescents.  Adolescent Nutrition).  Carbohydrates, protein, fat and fiber are important foods for adolescents to consume to provide energy.  Adolescents should also consume appropriate amounts of vegetables and fruits daily.  
Adulthood – The amount of calories an adult needs depends on their activity level.  A very active adult will require more calories than an adult that leads a more sedentary life style.  Sedentary adults require about 1600 calories a day, moderately active adults require about 2200 calories a day and very active adults require about 2800 calories a day (University of Georgia Department of Agriculture.  Nutrient Needs for Adults).  These dietary needs should be retrieved from healthy cooked vegetables, fruits, grains, and proteins. 
When we alter our diets by including unhealthy food selections and leave out the recommended heathy foods, we set ourselves up for lack of energy and undesirable physical and mental health conditions,


California Nutrition and Physical activity Guidelines for Adolescents.  Adolescent Nutrition.
      Retrieved from:

Mayo Clinic.  Children’s Health
      Retrieved from:

March of Dimes.  Feeding Your Baby.

      Retrieved from:

University of Georgia Department of Agriculture.  Nutrient Needs for Adults

      Retrieved from:

USDA.  Choose My Plate.  Men and Women.
       Retrieved from:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  Survey Shows Gains in Food Label Use, Health/Diet Awareness).

      Retrieved from:


I love food.  Not even gonna mince words here,  I LOVE FOOD!  My 54 year old body shows it too. I love any kind of food; American, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Polish; yes, I said Polish.  My mom was a great cook.  She was Polish. We ate a LOT of potatoes.  I remember my grandmother saying, "Give a Polish person  six potatoes and they can feed a family of four for a week!"  I ate potatoes fried, baked, broiled, mashed, sauteed, and boiled.  I'm sure that never a thought was given to the amount of carbohydrates we were consuming. However, she also served an abundance of vegetables and fruits.  Then there was my father who was from the deep South.  He also enjoyed cooking and loved fried foods.  There was always a great sugary desert at the table too.  I guess I had a nice balance with the different food styles.  I was also very active in my youth which helped keep me slim and trim.  I never worried about being over weight or unhealthy. I was also never taught about the health implications of eating a poor diet.  When I was 13 we moved to my dad's home state of Louisiana.  I was in heaven!  Fried everything!!!  Our family made food the center of every gathering we had, which happened several times a month.  As I grew older, I became less active and had escalated into a bad diet of fried foods, lots of sugary deserts, fast food, sweet tea and colas.  Not much changed over the years and now I find myself suffering the heath consequences of such a diet with high blood pressure, lack of energy and quite a few pounds over my 'ideal' weight.  My journey to a healthier life started a few weeks ago while taking the last course I needed to complete my Bachelor's Degree in Psychology; Introduction to Nutritional Concepts.  This will not be an easy journey.  Breaking decades old habits will be a daunting task to say the least, but living a healthier life style is on my bucket list.  Uh, let me rephrase that; living a healthier life style is my ultimate goal!
I am very fortunate to have taken a nutrition class.  I now understand what happens when I consume food, why I need to consume certain kinds of food, and why I need to stay away from certain kinds of food.  I hope the information that I have acquired will help others on their quest for a healthier life style.  And so my journey continues.......