My Nutritional Analysis: Improvements and Needs

For three days, I tried to write down everything that I consumed... from water to cereal to the stray piece of candy that I 'borrowed' from my son's Easter Basket. :) After combining the data I came up with the figures at the bottom of the post.

I will say that I found a few things about the figures a little shocking. One of which was I hadn't really realized how many meals that I have been skipping or just not eating until I was forced to look at what I was writing down. And I guess that the stress and sorrow in my life has really started to overwhelm me because I truly believe that these totals are right. I looked over the days and realized that I had been tallying things correctly and I really had eaten less than 1000 calories a day for those days. I am disappointed to say that I do not currently think that these particular days are at all abnormal for my eating habits right now. I am glad that when I am eating, I am eating good things so I am getting a bit of the stuff that my body needs, but I am clearly not getting enough. And in times of stress I should clearly be eating more... not less. (I will admit that I thought about cheating and trying to find some cans so that I could add their totals on to the correct ones and not look so bad, but I really felt like that was cheating and if I didn't want to look pathetic, I should shake out of my funk and start eating right to begin with.)

For Day One, I should have had at least 1000 more calories. I didn't have enough carbs or protein and only reached about 50% of the daily guidelines. However, that isn't too bad considering that I only ate about 50% of the calories I should have eaten. Fats were a little high (I had some salmon pate on crackers and so that brought those numbers up to the higher levels, but that is unusual enough that I am not too worried about my fat intake. For brevity’s sake, almost all of my vitamin intakes were either too low or just non existent... in fact, I either didn't consume any of the needed vitamins or minerals or I consumed less than 50% of them with one exception: sodium. In that particular mineral I was in the high range and over the daily recommended requirements of less than 2400 mg.

For Day Two, just for variety I ate even fewer calories at 710- unfortunately I must confess that all three of these recorded days were in a row and may explain why I feel tired and fairly shaky constantly. I don't tend to feel hungry however. I consumed less than fifty percent of what was recommended in calories, carbohydrates, protein and most vitamins and minerals- the two exceptions are folate and iron which I did hit 100% percent on (a bonus?). Many nutrients I didn't consume enough of to have a percentage to write down.

For Day Three, I ate a few more calories and I did eat a lot of the necessary nutrients in the one meal I consumed- 3 cups of spinach and feta salad. I still didn't eat enough calories, carbohydrates or proteins. For calories, I consumed a whopping 763! :) I was still low on several vitamins, but at least the numbers were low... and not non-existent! I only hit the appropriate RDA for folate and vitamin B12, but three vitamins I was pretty much off the charts on in the upper ranges: vitamin K with 291 micrograms, riboflavin, and to really overdose myself... over 6000 micrograms of vitamin A. Luckily, I have been so low on vitamin A that my body hopefully stored some of this for future expenditures and needs.

On these days, I got at least ½ hour of cardiovascular exercise: once was carrying food boxes quickly up and down the stairs. The other two were walking quickly to get to work. On these days I was also quite active in physical movement- I spent the mornings volunteering and the afternoons and evenings playing with my son. Then I tried to squeeze in some homework before I collapsed into bed. Hydration was adequate at between 6-7 glasses a day of water and several ounces of juice. So a few things have changed over this semester. I have been able to increase my exercise and to become more consistent with it. I have been watching what I eat a little more than I have in the past and have tried to afford a few 'fresh' things-hence the spinach salad. I have worked at trying to have more variety in my food and I have been fairly successful with that. So, while the vast majority of food that I eat is still based on beans and rice, I have been able to supplement by adding more vegetables, fruits and condiments such as salsa, sour cream and coconut milk. I think that has been very beneficial in the sense that I think I am getting more of the minerals and vitamins that I need. I think that I have learned to be more mindful of what I eat and how I eat it, even in my limited circumstances. I feel like I have had the opportunity over the last few weeks to understand how my body works and what it needs and I think that understanding has helped me to develop a better mindset about taking care of myself. It is obvious from my analysis however, that I need to do more than change my mindset however... I need to make more physical changes to use the information and resolve that I have developed over time. Habits are not something that can easily be broken with mental effort alone. You must use your mental energy to focus on working toward physical changes... and only after the physical changes have lasted more than a month can you truly be sure that you have changed your habits. Even then, you must work to keep the change as it is so much easier to fall back into bad habits then it is sometimes to keep the good habits that you have formed.

A few other habits that I am working on changing is the 'supplement are always good for you' brain-set I had when I started this class. Understanding that careful consumption will get me what my body needs and actually taking the time to really pay attention to my food I think has already started that change. It wasn't really a surprise to me that the one day that I consumed the most nutrients/vitamins/minerals, etc... was the day that I consumed fresh food and not canned. It was also the day that I added a small amount of dairy and seeds to my food. I made an appointment to speak with my doctor about whether I 'need' to take as many supplements as I am if my body is now more 'healed' and able to absorb the nutrients that I eat more fully. It was a great conversation that took over half an hour and we decided that I should stay on two of them (I probably will be on one of them for life), but we could see about removing the others after a medical procedure to see how well I have 'healed' my digestive track. I have been working on increasing fluid intake and I have for the most part seen an improvement in that as well. I think the most important thing that I have learned this semester is that eating well and taking care of yourself is truly a journey that must be taken. Consumption is almost always easy, bu whether the consumption is worthwhile takes thought, introspection and knowledge. Thank you so much for the opportunities that I have been given his semester to become more mindful, introspective, and to use the knowledge that I have gained to work towards making myself a healthier person. :)

Day 1 -
Calories: 890
total carbs: 136.5 g
dietary fiber: 21 g
sugars: 26.5 g
saturated fat: 15.5 g
poly unsaturated fat: 3 g
monounsaturated fat: 0.5 g
cholesterol: 60 mg
protein: 27.5 g
vitamin A: 380 micrograms
Vitamin B12: 1.5 micrograms
Vitamin C: 9.6 mg
Calcium: 580 mg
Iron: 7.56 mg
Potassium: 1055 mg
Sodium: 2850 mg

Day 2 -
Calories: 710
total carbs: 100 mg
dietary fiber: 7.5 g
sugars: 23 g
saturated fat: 8 g
poly unsaturated fat: 4 g
monounsaturated fat: 2 g
cholesterol: 35 mg
protein: 13.5 g
vitamin A: 710 micrograms
Vitamin B6: 1 mg
Riboflavin: 0.83 mg
Niacin: 10 mg
Thiamin: 0.75 mg
Folate: 400 mg
Vitamin B12: 6 micrograms
Vitamin C: 96 mg
Vitamin D: 180 mg
Calcium: 710 mg
Iron: 18.72 mg
Magnesium: 16 mg
Phosphorus: 60 mg
Potassium: 680 mg
Sodium: 1490 mg
Zinc: 7.5 mg

Day 3 -
Calories: 763.7
total carbs: 23.7 grams
dietary fiber: 2.83 grams
sugars: 4.1 grams
saturated fat: 10.5 grams
poly unsaturated fat: 6.93 grams
monounsaturated fat: 8.32 grams
cholesterol: 610.25 mg
omega 3: 298.4
omega 6: 6372.85
protein: 26.82 grams
vitamin A: 6001.25 iu
Riboflavin: 0.41 mg
Niacin: 1.37 mg
Thiamin: 0.1 mg
Folate: 434.2 micrograms
Vitamin B6: 0.55 mg
Vitamin B12: 0.75 mg
Vitamin C: 16.8 mg
Vitamin E: 7.6 iu
Vitamin K: 291.5 micrograms
Calcium: 323.85 mg
Iron: 6 mg
Magnesium: 303 mg
Phosphorus: 389.9 mg
Potassium: 595.7 mg
Sodium: 1200.2 mg
Zinc: 3.6 mg
Choline: 330 mg
Betane: 330.8
Selenium: 56.9 mcg
Panthothic Acid: 3.17 mg
Manganese: 0.9 mg

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