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Healthy Eating Plan

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Healthy Eating Plan:

End of Semester Update

[Your Name Here]

Your Class Name Here

June 16, 2008

What a snap. That was my initial reaction when I saw our first major assignment was to complete a healthy eating plan. I had no doubt that I would ace the assignment. The reason for my self confidence was simple: I have been a vegetarian for almost seventeen years now and have devoted an inordinate amount of my time to learning about what I eat. In addition, I am an analytical person, and feel very comfortable translating daily serving sizes into understandable measures, determining just how much of any given mineral I am getting in a supplement, and interpreting the chemical-babble often found on processed foods these days. So, it was a bit of a humbling experience to find that I was not guaranteed an A on the assignment, and even worse, that although I thought I had all the answers, I was really short on solutions. My primary error was to think that knowledge about food was equivalent to eating well. Once I began the assignment in earnest, I realized that I really had not been using what I knew to benefit my health. Over the past few weeks, I have made a sincere, thought not 100% successful effort to apply what I learned when creating my Healthy Eating Plan, and have summarized the results below.

In terms of general eating habits, I have often jokingly described myself as a 'cheeseterian' (cheese - ah - tar- ian). As detailed in my Healthy Eating Plan, I relied on dairy as a primary protein source, particularly hard cheeses, as many yogurts, for instance, are actually not vegetarian. One notable conclusions I reached from the assignment was that I was really over emphasizing dairy to fill my protein needs. I was already having a sufficient, healthy intake of other protein substitutes for meat, such as Garden burgers and soy proteins like Yves vegetarian cold cuts. Another concern was that because of food choices such as high salt dairy products and the frequent use of condiments, including prepackaged salad dressings and pasta sauces, my blood pressure might be borderline problematic. A final opportunity area I discovered actually didn’t have to do with what I was eating, but when and how. I had suspected a problem, but not really given serious thought to the worrisome fact that I tended to eat a lot alone, and that I often eat only a light breakfast and then consume a very large, high carbohydrate lunch, as well as snacking or having desert almost every night right before bed. These issues were the basis of the action plan I developed and I am pleased to say I have had some early successes implementing it.

I have several areas of opportunity to improve my eating habits, as I detailed above. Fortunately, I have strong will power, but more importantly, a wedding to motivate me in my health and weight loss goals!

Another motivation has been my long term desire to live naturally, so that I am not participating in practices that harm animals or the environment. This includes minimizing the use of pre packaged foods, imported foods, foods with excessive or unnatural preservatives, or foods that have hidden animal products, such as the lard used in making Twinkies. Within the scope of my plan for healthy eating I created a daily action plan including all these considerations, and focused on four areas; the amount and type of food I consumed, my daily calorie intake, the deficit or surplus of vitamins in my diet, and my physical activity level.

My daily action plan specifically included measures to eliminate non-local, over processed foods from my diet. I was proud of myself for relying on the local produce market for all my fruits and vegetables. However, when I began my weekly grocery shopping, and started filling in the �food source’ column of the diary I created as part of the plan, I was quickly amazed at how far away many of my fruits came from. The grapes were from Chile, the mangos from Honduras, the pineapples imported from Hawaii. The discoveries went on and on. I had learned that the farther a fresh product traveled the older it got, and the less nutrients it contained. In addition, all of the travel created pollution as well. I have learned since then to rely on local citrus, which really only makes sense considering I live in Florida. Also I have found that my market usually receives smaller shipments of local crops and that if I shop more often I can get these products before they sell out. I performed a similar test at my supermarket, logging the country of origin for all the food I bought for a week. While I wasn’t able to completely eliminate international products from my grocery list, I was able to find healthier, fresher, local versions of pasta, milk, coffee, bread, sauces, and other staples. As a result of eliminating some of these high salt, preserved foods, I have calculated a 17% decrease in the amount of sodium I average in a daily basis, from about 2200mg per day to about 1800mg.

The second component of my action plan was to reduce my calorie intake. Even though I am a bit overweight, I was unpleasantly startled to realize I was consuming an average of 2600 calories per day, while my recommended intake was only 2000. My action plan included three specific steps for normalizing my caloric intake: not eating two hours before bed, eating a full breakfast and a moderate lunch (this was counterintuitive, but necessary because I was not eating and then had a huge appetite by lunch time), and reducing the amount of cheese, condiments, and dessert in my diet. I have not had any trouble eliminating late night snacks and deserts from my daily routine; in fact, this has probably



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