“What is your nutrition IQ?”
Nutrition and exercise are recognized as the most important aspect in preventive medicine. When you go to your primary care physician for your annual physical, it is very important for you to discuss your diet with your physician. First, you should discuss all medications you are taking, which includes herbal supplements, vitamins, laxatives, and aspirin. Next, you should provide a thorough nutrition history. Here is an example of a good tool to use for a nutrition history:
1. How many meals and snacks do you eat each day?
2. How many times a week do you eat the following meals away from home?
Breakfast_____ Lunch_____ Dinner______
3. What types of eating place do you like to visit?
Fast food_____ Diner/cafeteria_____
4. On average how many pieces of fruit or glasses of juice do you eat or drink each day?
Fresh fruit_____ juice_____(8 oz cup)
5. On average, how many servings of vegetables do you eat a day?
6. On average, how many times a week do you eat a high-fiber breakfast cereal?
7. How many times a week do you eat red meat (beef, lamb, veal, pork)?
8. How many times a week do you eat chicken or turkey?
9. How many times a week do you eat fish or shellfish?
10. How many hours of television do you watch everyday?
11. Do you usually snack while you are watching television?
12. How many times a week do you eat desserts and sweets?
13. What types of beverages do you usually drink? How many servings of each do you drink a day?
Water ____ Milk: Alcohol:
Juice_____ Whole milk_____ Beer_____
Soda_____ 2% milk_____ Wine_____
Diet soda_____ 1% milk_____ Hard Liquor_____
Iced tea_____ Skim milk_____
Iced tea with sugar_____
After taking this nutrtion “quiz”, please read the answers below. These answers are compiled from many nutrition journals, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and my clinical experience.
How many meals and snacks do you eat in a 24-hour period?
A good way to begin is to ask yourself about what you eat and and your overall intake. This information will reveal irregular eating habits, especially those who skip breakfast. It should be emphasized that breakfast is the most important meal of the day because is breaks the overnight fast. Also, you should eat small frequent meals throughout the day (about 4-6 meals). The meals should equal about 300 calories each, thus totaling about 1800 calories per day. You can increase this caloric intake if you exercise. But, it also depends on how many calories you burn during exercise so be careful!!
How many meals per week do you eat away from home?
Most times meals eaten in restaurants are not healthy or high calorie. Thus, when eating out, you should pick items in the menu that are grilled, poached, baked, or broiled. When ordering salad, have the dressing put in a separate container.
If you decide to pick a high calorie item on the menu, have the waiter or waitress put half of the food away so you can take it home. That way it is automatically portion sized for you.
Many restaurants are starting to have a “lighter calorie” option as well. Restaurants such as Seasons 52, California Pizza Kitchen, Houlihans are a few. You can also check online for the caloric content of the items on the menu.
How often do you eat high fiber foods such as cereal, fruits and vegetables?
Epidemiologic evidence strongly supports an inverse association between fiber intake and cardiovascular disease, as well as cancers of the digestive tract. Soluble fiber, which is contained in cereal grains (especially oats and barley), citrus fruits, apples, beans and corn, has also been shown to reduce serum cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein levels. Fresh fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of fiber and phytochemicals, which may explain their probable protective effect against certain cancers of the digestive tract.
Recent evidence strongly indicates that an elevated plasma homocysteine level is an independent risk factor for atherosclerotic disease. Adequate intake of folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 are required to keep homocysteine levels normal; however, folate is the vitamin most often lacking in the average American’s diet. Folate is present primarily in dark-green leafy vegetables, whole-grain cereals, beans, oranges and orange juice. The American Cancer Society recommends at least five servings of fruits and vegetables and at least one serving of a fiber-rich cereal every day. Unfortunately, only 23 percent of Americans eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
A low fiber diet leads to constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue, and more.
How many times a week do you eat red meat, and what size is the meat?
Red meat has been shown to be high in saturated fat and cholesterol. You should limit to eating red meat about once or twice per week. The size of your red meat should be no larger than a deck of cards. If you have a choice, you should eat turkey, fish, or chicken over red meat.
How many times a week do you eat poultry products, and what size is the usual portion?
Poultry products can be eaten everyday, however the skin of turkey and chicken is high in calories and fat. Thus, you are encouraged to take the skin off the turkey and chicken. Also, remember to bake, grill, or broil your meat.
How many times a week do you eat fish and shellfish, and what size is the usual portion?
Fish and shellfish are good alternatives to meat and poultry because of their low total-fat and saturated-fat content. The cholesterol content in shellfish varies, but all shellfish is very low in total fat and saturated fat, and its consumption should therefore be encouraged. Fish also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to decrease blood pressure and triglyceride levels, and increase clotting time. Recent research has shown that fish containing omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease when eaten as part of a heart-healthy diet. Additional studies have shown that eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids at least once a week is associated with a reduction in the risk of primary cardiac arrest. The types of fish containing the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids are herring, salmon, mackerel, sardines and swordfish. Patients should be encouraged to eat fish and shellfish at least once per week and to order fish or shellfish when they eat out; they should also ask to have these items grilled or broiled rather than fried.
How many hours of television do you watch per day? How many hours a day do you play with your IPAD and Smartphone?
Encourage your patients and their families to limit the number of hours spent watching television, using the Smartphone, and IPAD. You should be encouraging your kids to spend their time doing after school activities. Likewise, you should be busy with after work activities as well.
There are numerous studies that have shown an increase in obesity with more time spent in front of the television.
How often do you consume dairy products, and what types?
There is conflicting evidence on the benefits of dairy products. The Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine recommends at dairy free diet. Some nutrition experts recommend low fat dairy products. It depends on what suits your lifestyle when it comes to dairy products. If you consume dairy, the products should be low fat or fat free products. Also, the milk should be growth hormone free. If you do not consume much dairy, a good website to use is www.pcrm.org (Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine).
How often do you eat desserts and sweets?
These foods are common sources of hidden saturated fats, since most commercially baked products contain butter and eggs. Fresh fruit, angel food cake, nonfat frozen yogurt and sherbet are the best alternatives. Other nonfat desserts are now available; however, the fat is usually replaced by increased amounts of simple sugars, so the calorie content may be equal to or sometimes greater than the fuller fat version. This increased calorie content is converted into fat in the body, thus defeating the intended purpose of eating nonfat foods. You should read nutrition labels for both fat and calorie information when comparing products and to either share desserts with a partner or choose fruit or sherbet.
What types of beverages (including alcoholic) do you drink?
It is recommended you stay away from regular sodas and diet sodas. Also, a 4 to 6 oz glass of red wine per day is recommended to help with prevention of cardiovascular disease.
It is well recognized that poor nutrition contributes to diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and other disease processes. You must take control of your oral intake on a daily basis to prevent illness. Here are some good websites for you to use when deciding food choices:
www.pcmr.org (Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine)
www.vegetariantimes.com (Vegetarian Times)
www.weightwatchers.com (Weight Watchers)
www.aafp.org (American Academy of Family Physicians)
Good luck on your quest to improve your nutrition, health, and lifestyle!