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Healthy Eating Plan Comparison

In comparing my original eating diary to the most recent one, I realized I have implemented many changes for the good in the past six weeks.  In my first food diary checkpoint, I was eating far too many simple carbohydrates, not enough protein, practically no dairy and no fruit, and nowhere near enough vegetables.  About the only nutrients I was eating enough of was grains, but even here, they were typically not whole grains, and the number of grains was higher than I really needed. 

As a result of this analysis, I made  a plan to improve my diet by including fruit and dairy, and adding in vegetables.  In particular, I wanted to focus on adding dairy and fruit, since I had been eating virtually none of either of those food groups.  I also wanted to reduce the number of simple carbohydrates, and  ideally switch to including more whole grains rather than so many highly processed grains.   Finally, I needed to increase my vegetable intake, since I had been eating far too few of those.

In my most recent food diary I have improved my diet substantially, although I am not yet at the MyPyramid suggested level for all food groups.  For example, though I am not yet eating enough dairy, I have begun to eat at least one serving of yogurt each day. I decided to choose a low-fat yogurt, in order to not have my increased dairy send too much fat into my diet.  I also am trying to increase the amount of low-fat cheese I eat. I like low-fat mozarella cheese sticks, so I try to snack on one of those each day too.  Between the yogurt and the cheese sticks I’m now eating at least some of the dairy I need.  I hope to continue increasing my dairy until I get to the recommended 3 servings a day on a regular basis.   I’m now eating about 6 oz of yogurt and 1 oz of cheese a day, plus about another 3 or 4 oz of milk with my breakfast cereal. This is an improvement over what I was consuming, but not as good as it needs to be.

To improve my calcium intake, I have also tried to occasionally order salmon when eating out.  I do like that, but I do not cook fish myself, so this has become something I order out in a restaurant but do not eat much at home.  I need to improve my cooking skills with fish to be able to incorporate it more often in my diet.  I also have been trying to eat more turkey sandwiches too to increase my vitamin A for improved skin and eyes.
In terms of fruit, I have done a little better than before.  Because there are some fruits I really like, I have made a point of including the Dole fruit cups in my grocery purchases, as well as grapes.  I also am keeping cans of pineapple chunks in the refrigerator so I can use them for snacks. I have been careful to purchase the pineapple packed in juice instead of sugar to keep the excess sugar lower and thus avoid some of the simple carbohydrates of sugar syrup. I also discovered that I can keep a bag of unsweetened frozen berries in the freezer (blueberries or raspberries, for example). I can add some of them on top of my breakfast cereal to give me a little extra fruit.   They defrost within moments just by rinsing them for a minute or two under warm water.
I also wanted to include more whole grains in my diet. I have found that a couple options have worked very well for me.  I have discovered a whole-grain cereal that I like very much for breakfast, and have begun eating that most mornings, which, with the berries and milk that accompany it, also helps both in fruit and dairy. Another solution to increase my whole grains that I have discovered is using Arnold’s whole grain sandwich thins instead of buns or bread for sandwiches.  There are several flavors, but my favorite Honey Wheat version has 100 calories, only 1 gram of fat (10 calories from fat), 22 grams of carbohydrate, with 5 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of protein.  Each one also has 11 grams of whole grains, so it has lots of complex carbohydrates rather than the simple ones.  One of these sandwich thins takes the place of a bun or two slices of bread, and it not only has fewer calories than regular bread or a bun, but also has more whole grains and very little fat.
Most difficult for me has been the inclusion of vegetables.  I have tried to keep fresh cucumbers ( stored in apple cider vinegar) in the refrigerator, but I find I don’t reach for that snack as often as I probably should.  Although I like them, it is something that gets a little tiresome over longer periods.  I do try to compensate a little by adding in a salad (lettuce, cucumbers, and a little bit of onions, with a low-fat Italian dressing).  I have not done as well as I would like on including vegetables, and will have to work on this part of my diet more.

To reduce the excessive number of carbohydrates (or rather, to substitute healthy ones for the unhealthy ones I had been eating), I have also started to use zero-calorie flavored waters instead of soda, and find that I like those pretty well.  Rather than give up rice completely, I have switched to brown rice and even wild rice and I find I like that pretty well.  And of course, using the Arnold’s Whole Grain Sandwich Thins has also helped a lot with adding complex carbohydrates.

In terms of activity, I did not need to make any changes in my activity level since I go to the gym 3 to 4 times each week on a regular basis.  What I did need to do was maintain that level of activity, and I have done so.  I was and am well within the guidelines for activity levels.

The biggest issue I have is one of staying aware of what I eat.  It’s easy to slip into old habits without even thinking about what I’m putting into my mouth.  I now have  a daily food log, and I find that recording everything I eat, even if I don’t necessarily know the nutritional content exactly, makes me more conscious and aware of what my food choices are.  As a result of the food log, I also have found myself researching restaurant menus on the Internet when I know I’m going to eat out, and  pre-planning what I will order to make better choices.  Once or twice I have even changed which restaurant I went to in order to find one with better choices.  My other big concern is how I can get more vegetables into my diet in a way that is palatable to me.  So far, I’ve been only slightly successful at that, though I have improved in all other parts of my diet.  I will continue to look for ways to bring more green and colorful vegetables into my diet.