For this assignment, I recorded my food intake over a 24-hour period using www.choosemyplate.com. The patterns and trends that emerge from my nutritional intake bear some important implications about my personal eating habits, including cultural influences and instances where my nutrition could be improved. In the following analysis, I will explore these patterns and trends in an effort to understand and improve my nutritional intake.
I begin my examination with a general summary of the meals I ate over a 24-hour period over April 3-4, 2012. For breakfast, I had two cups of 100 percent natural, low-fat whole grain cereal with raisins, eight fluid ounces of reduced-fat milk and one bottle of water. For lunch, I ate one medium banana and one medium apple and had an eight ounce glass of tap water. For dinner, I ate an approximate 8 ounce piece of broiled catfish, prepared with olive oil; two cups of salad with lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, and carrots, without dressing and another bottle of water. Between meals, my snacks consisted of one ounce of roasted, unsalted almonds, a four fluid ounce glass of reduced-fat milk and one cup of plain, fat-free yogurt.
This meal is representative of my typical eating habits with a few exceptions. Occasionally, I will skip breakfast or have a cereal bar on the go, although now I am trying to incorporate more whole grain items at breakfast as my Food Groups and Calories report shows, I am below the minimum recommended four grams per day. Sometimes, I will eat out for lunch, though I try to stick to one or two cups of fresh fruit juice for my midday meal. Being of Hispanic origin, fresh, tropical fruit has always been a staple item in my family’s diet. Also, as a Hispanic, we often eat fish for dinner, though it is usually accompanied by a generous portion of arroz con habichuelas (rice and beans). Surprisingly, though, according to my Food Groups and Calories report, my approximate 7 and 1/2 ounces of fish per week falls below the recommended weekly minimum of ten ounces. Perhaps, this is due to the large portions of arroz con habichuelas that accompany our modest seafood portions. Lately, I try to refrain from eating this staple side dish on a daily basis or, at least, reduce my portion size to avoid overloading on carbohydrates. Although not reflected in my 24-hour plan, I typically consume an average of 253 empty calories per day, which include cultural treats and indulgences such as Malta beverages and my grandmother’s irresistible flan. My average calorie intake is 1967 calories, and my empty calorie intake represents less than 8 percent of my total caloric consumption.
I am proud to report that, according to my Nutrient Report, out of 29 essential nutrients, I only fall below the recommended minimum in four of them. My diet is lacking a-Linolenic Acid, Potassium, Iron and Vitamin-A. As a woman, it is essential for me to receive the recommended grams of potassium and iron per day, as a lack of these essential nutrients can lead to bone diseases common among middle-aged women. On the positive side, milk has always been a staple beverage in my family, as it is in many Hispanic homes, and my calcium intake is actually 308 grams over the recommended daily minimum. If I can improve my nutrition to include the minimum amounts of potassium and iron per day, my chances of experiencing bone degeneration or other diseases later in life will dramatically decrease.
In addition to needing more whole grain and a few essential minerals and vitamins in my diet, one other area in which my nutrition needs improvement is my vegetable intake. Unfortunately, Hispanic food culture does not incorporate copious amounts of vegetables or dark, leafy greens. Our staple vegetables generally consist of plantains, taro, yucca and potato, but ,still, we do not typically eat them daily. We often have a salad with dinner, though it usually consists of nutrient-lacking iceburg lettuce, cucumbers, and corn. Because of this eating trend, as my Food Groups and Calories Report reflects, I fall below the minimum daily allowance for dark green, red, and orange vegetables, peas and beans, starchy and other vegetables. As I mentioned earlier, rice and beans is a staple food item in our household; however, the traditional Hispanic preparation of this dish maintains a ratio of approximately 4/5 rice to 1/5 kidney beans, black beans, pigeon peas, etc.
In light of this analysis, I intend to make certain revisions to my typical eating habits to incorporate more of the essential vegetables, minerals, and nutrients that I am currently lacking in my diet. As previously mentioned, I am attempting to include more whole grain cereal choices in my breakfast. Since I often have a salad with dinner, I intend to substitute the usual components with more nutrient-rich options. Instead of iceberg lettuce, I will use a mix of potassium- and iron-rich baby spinach, romaine, and radicchio greens. I will add antioxidant-rich tomatoes and olive oil dressing to the mix and include shredded carrot or sweet potato, both of which are high in Vitamin A. Bell peppers instead of cucumbers will give my salad that fresh, crisp crunch while also boosting my red and orange vegetable intake. And lastly, a few olives or parsley added to the bowl will give me the extra iron boost that, as a female, my bones rely on for health. In addition, I will try to eat larger portions of lean fish and other seafood and continue to my never-ending battle to scale back my portion sizes of my beloved arroz con habichuelas!