One Week Down…and this really isn’t that challenging. Perhaps I’m at a healthier stage in life than I originally thought, or maybe I should find higher standards. There are a few questions I’d like to discuss with a nutritionist…for example: This veggie breakdown of the five categories, how critical is it to get those recommended amounts in each category? For example, the starch vegetable category (corn, green peas, white potatoes) I had none of last week but have still been meeting my daily vegetable requirements with all the other categories. Also, I do love a lot of red & orange vegetables (sweet potatoes, tomatoes, carrots) but is really reasonable to get 5 cups of them in a week? Especially in the summertime when Sweet potatoes and butternut squash, etc. are not in season. I did meet the requirement this week, but don’t think I would typically. Additionally, the “Other vegetables” category is it bad if this is where the majority of your vegetables fall (zucchini, squash, cucumber, etc.)? Also, is this where asparagus belongs?
Overall, I think I am doing well and with a little better meal planning I think I can curb the aforementioned problem areas of dairy and protein to get the recommended amount of nutrients.
New recipes that I tried and enjoyed this week included quinoa mac’n’cheese, homemade almond butter and whole wheat cookies.
This Friday we leave for vacation with my family so I know the week ahead will be a lot more challenging to stay on the healthy track. Travelling in general is difficult to stick with a routine of any kind, never mind with my family…we love to eat and unfortunately I tend to overindulge when I am with them. I’ll keep you posted on how I do on the west coast!
I’m about a half-a-week into my new challenge and wanted to note a few findings so far.
- I surprisingly eat enough fruits AND vegetables according to the USDA My Plate standards. This is surprising to me because I really though I lacked in the vegetable category, but I only need 2.5 cups a day and I’ve really had no problem reaching that…at least in the past few days.
- I’ve been struggling in the Dairy category though. This is surprising because I used to be all about some dairy…loved milk and cheese my whole life…and I still do, but I think I cut a lot of dairy out of my diet…so much so that I am not getting the recommended 3 cups a day. I think this is partially do to the expense of dairy items and the perceived fat that they contain. This is an area I need to work on.
- Protein, like dairy, I am not getting enough. I honestly think with a little better meal planning on my part, this will not be an issue. I usually do think I get enough protein but have not been cooking a lot of meat lately for whatever reason. Definitely not going vegetarian because I do love meats and their nutritional benefits, but have not been eating it as much. Salmon is on the menu for tonight though, so maybe I’ll get back into the swing of things!
- I love dessert! This is not a shocking revelation or anything new…I love finishing meals with a little something sweet or picking up something from the bakery any time I feel like splurging. This is not a category on the plate and is something I will probably continue to indulge in, but just wanted to be fully transparent here!
We will see how I round off the week!
For the next month or so, I am going to try to mirror my diet based on this balanced plate idea. I’ll log how I am doing here along with any nice discoveries.
Recording it in this way is not to show the world how awesome I am and inspire them to be more healthy too, but more to hold myself accountable so I can look back on each week and reflect if I’m really doing what I set out to do. Here goes nothing but the risk of becoming a more healthier me!
Now vegetables and I have not always been the best of friends. In fact, members of my loving family can tell you all about the times I was carried away from the dinner table kicking and screaming about not wanting to eat my peas and carrots…many spankings resulted of this. By the way, I’ve grown to enjoy peas and carrots most of the time!
I would not say that now I am a lover of vegetables, but I’m working on it. I have a few go to veggies that I enjoy: asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, sweet potatoes, etc. But there is definitely room for improvement in this category and I know I am not usually getting the recommended amount. As a side note: Lately, I have been inspired to drink my veggies and I like them a lot more. I think I would be more inclined to do so regularly if I had a nice juicer, and didn’t pay $6+ a glass at Whole Foods, but that’s besides the point.
The same site I mentioned before (Choose My Plate) has also provided a breakdown of the types of vegetables recommended and over the next few weeks I am going to strive to make this weekly goal:
As a 19-30 year old woman, it is recommended to eat this amount per week:
- 1.5 cups of Dark Green Vegetables (Broccoli, Kale, Spinach, Endive, Romaine and other dark leafy greens)
- 5.5 cups of Red & Orange Vegetables (carrots, pumpkin, red peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, acorn/butternut squash, etc.)
- 1.5 cups of Beans & Peas (black beans, garbanzo, kidney, pinto, soy beans, black-eyed peas, split peas, etc.)
- 5 cups of Starchy Vegetables (corn, green peas, white potatoes)
- 4 cups of other vegetables (green beans, cauliflower, onions, zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, cucumbers, celery, lettuce, etc.)
I’d like to acknowledge, that beans have never really been a part of my diet. I am not accustomed to cooking them except in a nice pot of chili or in a spread like hummus. Perhaps if I grew up Cuban it would be a staple in my cooking like many of my Miami peers, but during the next few weeks I am going to try and find a way to sneak them into my cuisine along with more leafy greens!
About two years ago, the USDA restructured the traditional food pyramid to better reflect what our country’s health gurus recommend and “My plate” is what resulted as you see here:
On my quest to discover what “healthy” looks like, I’m using this model as a standard so I can figure out what areas of my diet need improvement and determine if I’m giving myself the best and most balanced amount of nutrients. I’m hoping to learn as I go and discover new “healthy” foods that are surprisingly delicious along the way.
So according to USDA, women ages 19-30 who get less than 30 minutes of exercise per day should eat the following daily:
- 2 cups of fruit
- 2.5 cups of vegetables
- 6 ounces of grains, at least 3 of which should be whole grains
- 5.5 ounces of protein equivalents
- 3 cups of dairy
- 6 teaspoons of oil
*Now for the record, I do try to exercise at least three times per week or more whether it be yoga, swimming, jogging, free weights, etc. But for the next month or so I want to hyper focus on food and then maybe later try to figure out the exercising piece of the puzzle.
To figure out what is recommended for your body based on your age and gender visit www.choosemyplate.gov
I realized last time, Fall 2011, I never really explained myself when I launched this site…but I was challenged to look at what I ate on a regular basis and compare it to this list of foods that were ranked A-F by a boot camp class instructor I was taking classes with at the time…I really loved Living Social fitness deals while I lived in Richmond. It was really great and I feel like it did alter the way I thought about food without getting too obsessed over it which was the goal. Fast forward a year and a half and here we are! Still trying to figure out what truly eating healthy looks like for me while “maintaining the body God blessed me with” as my subtitle indicates.
So I get on these “healthy highs” where I really think about and enjoy analyzing what goes into my body and what its purpose is. Lately, I’ve been on another one of those kicks and trying to discover what I should eat daily/weekly that would be best for me. There are hundreds of thousands of opinions and I’m trying not to get bogged down with them all, but trying to discover what works for me, my body type, my budget, my tastes and my lifestyle. I could pay a nutritionist or find a life coach to tell me what to do, but to be honest, this is more fun for me and I don’t really like being told what to do. So here we go again…another “healthy” experiment.