I started a nutrition class last week. Back before I had a child, I was always taking classes on top of all of my other hobbies. Then I had a kid, and purposely education took a backseat for a while. Actually, that's not true because I finished my CEBS designation while I was on maternity leave. Anyway, after a 4 year respite, I'm excited to be back at it. I have a Master's degree and am nowhere ready to buckle down to get a PhD (in what, I wouldn't even know!). So I'm taking this opportunity to explore WHATEVER I FEEL LIKE.
First on the docket: nutrition. I wanted to scare myself into eating better. Last summer I contemplated going to a nutritionist, and I even called around. However, I wasn't allowed to see a nutritionist. Why? Well, you either have to be 1) obese or 2) diabetic. I'm neither. At first I was frustrated about this injustice. Then I put it into perspective. I'm a reasonably smart person. I know that I eat too much crap. Otherwise, I do fine. If I could stop eating the crap, then I'd be in decent shape. Perhaps attending a nutrition class would scare me into avoiding the crap.
I was pleased to find out the first project was a food diary for 4 days. Using software you can calculate how many calories, carbs, protein, fruits/veggies, vitamins and minerals you have eaten. Then you write up a report on what you learned, and the next phase will be evaluating 5 other people's reports.
For the 4 days, I really did cut out most of the empty calories I usually eat. No cookies, cake or ice cream. My only sweets were a few hard candies made from brown rice syrup.
So what did I learn?
There were the duh moments: I eat a lot of fruits and veggies, almost 2x the recommended amount. I am a rock star in that area. I eat a lot of protein, which I knew. I struggle with gluten and dairy. I'm supposed to stay away from both. With gluten, that's fine because I eat brown rice and quinoa instead. But not enough because I still came up short in the grains department. Dairy is a cataclysmic failure. I do like cheese, but there's only so much you can or even should eat. The thought of drinking milk makes me nauseous. I don't like soymilk or rice milk either. Again, I struggle in this area and know it. Calcium supplements do not work well with my stomach. Dairy and I just do not get along.
There were the aha moments: Somewhat surprisingly, my calcium intake was only slightly lower than the recommended amount even though I avoid most dairy. What most surprised me was that my sodium intake was higher than it should be. I don't add salt to my food or eat potato chips/pretzels, so I suppose I thought that my sodium intake was low. On my rice and chicken/veggies, I do put teriyaki sauce. I eat fish, which seems to be a little bit higher in sodium. Cheese too. It adds up throughout the day. Typically I'm a big soup eater. On these 4 days I recorded, I stayed away from soup because it's hard to record. We had to record each part of the soup separately, and it's difficult to make sure you capture all of the ingredients and the precise measurements. So if you add soup to my already high sodium diet, I would be eating obscene amounts of sodium normally.
It was an interesting project. Later in the session we'll be trying to craft an "ideal" 7-day food plan. That should be eye-opening.