Monday, September 19, 2016

Health is Wealth Toolkit- Tracking Your Intake


One of the most useful tools for someone who is looking at making improvements to their current diet is to keep an accurate record of what they are actually eating. I can’t tell you how many times I have been tracking my diet and found that I was not getting enough Calcium, Vitamin A, and especially Potassium in my diet. I value variety in my diet and am always trying new recipes and dishes, but not everyone is like me. When working with clients who want to lose weight, 99.9% of the time they have already tried some type of calorie-restricting diet that has major deficiencies in important vitamins and minerals. There really is no reason for this! Granted, there are many, many factors that play into a person’s ability to lose weight but there are many nutrient-dense foods that one can incorporate into their diet that promote more than healthy weight loss. Nutrient-dense foods can prevent and treat many nutrition-related chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and so on. (Not familiar with the term nutrient-dense foods? Nutrient-dense foods are foods that have a lot of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, but not a lot of calories. Think of fruits, vegetables, or complex carbohydrates like quinoa, oatmeal, and beans/lentils)

MyFitnessPal is a very popular and free way to track your diet. There are thousands of foods available and it will give you a breakdown of your macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat: total/saturated/polyunsaturated/monounsaturated/trans/cholesterol) as well as sugar, fiber, sodium, potassium, vitamins A & C, calcium, and iron. There are also other trackers such as SparkPeople and the USDA Supertracker (though with the Supertracker, I have had many students who have used it for projects who get frustrated because they have trouble locating specific brands for their food items).

When you are tracking your food, do not forget to add condiments (ketchup, mayonnaise, salad dressing) and beverages. Even the cream and sugar in your coffee are important to track for accuracy. I suggest keeping track of your intake for at least one week. Once you have completed your food record, you should be able to identify areas that need some attention. Use this information to increase nutrient-dense foods in your diet to meet your requirements. One of the issues with people who are restricting their calories is that they feel taking vitamins will keep them absent from developing deficiencies but often if you are not meeting your vitamin and mineral requirements, you are also not even coming close to meeting your fiber needs. Try incorporating real food first because adequate fiber intake is one of your greatest assets for long-term weight management and health. And if you are struggling with weight loss or weight maintenance, reach out to a Dietitian to give you professional advice.

Did you complete your food record and find you are low in Potassium? According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Board Scientific Report, vitamin D, calcium, fiber, and potassium are under consumed in the American diet and may pose a significant public health concern. Potassium is needed for cardiac health, especially for blood pressure regulation. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends people over the age of 14 years consume 4,700mg of potassium for Adequate Intake each day. Here are a few examples of high potassium foods to consider adding to your diet (more than 200mg per serving):

1 medium banana
425mg
1 small orange
240mg
½ of a papaya
390mg
¼ cup of raisins
270mg
½ cup of cantaloupe
215mg
1 medium pear
200mg
½ cup of prune juice
370mg
1 kiwi fruit
240mg


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