Sunday, March 27, 2011

W12 Day 5: Nutrition

I'd like to take a moment to confess something here....It's probably already obvious considering my weight and body mass index, but I really don't know a lot about nutrition.  Oh sure, I know that fat, sugar, and salt are bad.  Whole grains are good (I'm not really sure what's different about a whole grain and a regular grain).  Fiber is good.  Processed foods are bad.  Dairy is good (which I almost never eat), but cheese, ice-cream, and regular yogurt (except Greek yogurt) are bad (Damn, I love cheese).  Salt is worse for you than fat in the long run, but too much saturated fat is worse for you in the short term.  You should lose weight by cutting calories.  Or by ignoring calories and eating only fresh foods. Or by adding more calories to boost your metabolism and exercising like a crazy person.  Or by only eating meat and vegetables and cutting out sugar.  Or carbs.  Or by subsisting on tomato soup and other liquids.  Or by praying for clemency from the chocolate gods out there that they'll release me from their hold.  Obviously, I'm confused.

Even though I know it's much out-dated, a lot of my basic ideas about food come from the old "Four Food Groups" model I learned in elementary school.

This model doesn't exactly work because it doesn't show you how much of each section you are supposed to go or show my favorite category, the fats.  I will also admit that there have been times in my life where my four food groups chart has looked more like this  --------------------------------------------->

I really didn't eat a lot of vegetables during my college years, and I've always had a problem with salt and sugar, and hey, why not throw in the alcohol there just for fun?

Then I learned the food pyramid. Not the updated one that's out and about now, but the older one with levels or steps that show you how much of each type of food you are supposed to get.  I kind of liked this one because it laid out the servings for me, but honestly, there's no way that I was following the chart.  Part of the problem is that my estimation of a serving is not really a serving.  For instance, a Noah's bagel (yum!) can actually be 2-3 servings of grains...wowzers!

According to this pyramid, the bulk of day's food looks like grains and carbs, with two to three servings of dairy and meats.  All the fats and sweets and other extras are to be used "sparingly" (Ha!).  

Then a few weeks ago, my husband and I were talking about this topic and he mentioned that my food pyramid model was outdated.  I had no idea!  Apparently I'm only six years behind the times.  Anyway, the new pyramid looks like this:

Now, I like how the fruits and vegetables columns put together are greater than the grains section because that's a lot closer to what I am eating on a daily basis.  The USDA has a good website that breaks down nutritional information for you and breaks down the vegetable category up further into different categories (dark green leafy veggis, orange veggis, starchy veggis, etc.) .  I really don't eat much in the milk category--certainly not three cups worth--though I know I should, or at least take my multi-vitamin.  It's also interesting that oil gets a spot on the pyramid now.  For now, I know that I don't know all that I need to and I'm going to take some time to collect information and make changes in small steps, but I'm also going to continue doing what I'm doing because it seems to be working, despite the occasional (or not so occasional???) cupcake.  

Here's the USDA website as a resource to anyone who might be interested:


  1. I knew the food pyramid had been "rebuilt," so to speak, but I didn't know what it looked like. Very interesting.
    Whole grains are those that have the bran and germ parts still attached to them - they haven't been cleaned and processed to remove these parts with more fiber and protein from them. Have you ever tried quinoa? It's a really delicious whole grain that is being touted as being a "superfood," and after you boil it up you can mix in steamed veggies for a filling and super nutritious side or main dish. Trader Joe's sells quinoa in boxes - it cooks up kind of like couscous.
    Stick with it! I think you're going to reach your birthday goal.

    - chelsea

  2. I'll have to try it, Chelsea. Thanks! I looked it up on WW and they have a bunch of recipes. I might try a simple one with olive oil, tomatoes, and cilantro.

  3. Funnily enough, here's almost exactly the kind of dish I was thinking of, by one of my favorite bloggers. Note that she uses brown rice, but says quinoa could be substituted for it easily.

    - chelsea