Total Diet Approach to Healthy Eating

Your total diet is the combination of all of the beverages and foods that you eat.

In this month’s Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the academy published a position paper endorsing a total diet approach to healthy eating.  The position states that “the total diet or overall pattern of food eaten is the most important focus of healthy eating”. And goes on to say that “all foods can fit within this pattern if consumed in moderation with appropriate portion size and combined with physical activity”.

The government dietary patterns illustrated by the MyPlate food groups are one example of a total diet approach to healthy eating that the academy endorses.

By not labeling foods as “good foods” and “bad foods”, healthy eating can include favorite foods that may not be particularly healthy in themselves. For example, a diet can be healthy and still include a bag of chips or candy bar. This is the idea behind the “Empty Calories” group in the MyPlate food groups. Most calorie levels in the government dietary patterns include an allotment of empty calories, to make the diets feel less restrictive and hopefully easier to follow.

Choose Nutrient Dense Foods!

Nutrient dense foods?

These are foods that provide vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, without additional calories from added fats, sugars and refined starches. Vegetables, fruit, whole grain breads, lean meats, beans, and low fat milk products are all nutrient dense foods if prepared without added fat and sugar.

Meeting your nutrient needs using the MyPlate food groups means choosing nutrient dense foods from each food group, according to your calorie needs. If you eat the recommended amounts of foods from each food group but choose foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt, you will not be meeting the moderation goals recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These moderation goals encourage weight maintenance and the prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Let MyDietSteps calculate a food group pattern for you and show you how to plan a nutrient dense menu!

How Much Exercise Do You Need?

Exercise is important!

Exercise burns calories, and is important to help regulate calorie balance in the body. If you burn more calories that you take in, you will lose weight. If you take in more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. Exercise can also improve quality of life by helping to relieve stress, improve self-esteem, build endurance, control blood pressure, and lower the risk of several chronic diseases.

So how much exercise do you need?

The US National Academy of Sciences (the organization that establishes the US dietary standards) suggests that healthy, normal weight adults, children and teens exercise at the Active  activity level. The Active exercise level includes at least this amount of exercise per day *:

90 minutes of light exercise (such as slow walking or yoga) OR

60 minutes of medium exercise (such as brisk walking or slow swimming) OR

30 minutes of hard exercise (such as running or fast swimming)

OR you can combine exercise intensities such as 30 minutes of brisk walking plus 15 minutes of running.

Enter the exercise that you do into MyDietSteps and let the program tell you your activity level!

* When beginning an exercise routine, it is always advisable to start slowly and build gradually over time to an optimal level. Consult a health professional if you have chronic health problems, risk factors, or questions.

Weight Loss and You

Can I lose weight and follow the Dietary Guidelines for Americans? Yes!

The Dietary Guidelines teach how to eat food that supplies the nutrients you need and allows you to attain and maintain a healthy weight.

Adults with a BMI of 25 or over may benefit from gradual weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week.

To lose 1 pound per week, you would need to eat 500 calories less per day. MyDietSteps offers dietary patterns as low as 1200 calories for adults that show how to get needed nutrients from food in a calorie level that promotes gradual weight loss.

Let MyDietSteps calculate an optimal calorie level for you!

Vitamins and Minerals and You

Do bigger people need more vitamins and minerals than smaller people? Not necessarily!

Vitamin and mineral needs are determined by age and gender, and do not consider body size. For example, a 30 year old female that is 5’0″ tall and weighs 100 pounds has the same vitamin and mineral needs as a female that is 5’9″ tall and weighs 150 pounds (all other factors being equal).

The calorie needs, however are very different between the two. The smaller person needs about 1600 calories per day to maintain her weight, and the larger person needs about 2000 calories per day.

So, the smaller person is tasked with meeting her vitamin and mineral needs with less food than the bigger person. She will need to be more aware of nutrient rich foods and consume fewer empty calories.

Let MyDietSteps  show you how to meet your specific vitamin and mineral needs with a calorie level that promotes a healthy weight.