I just got back from seeing my nutritionist, and overall it was a very good appointment. She told me that vegetarianism in people my age, especially for someone who is trying to be active, is not a good idea because my body is still changing at a rapid rate. I showed her a three day food journal of how I typically eat, and she told me that overall my eating habits are fine, for the most part. My nutritionist agreed that I should no longer be counting calories and just worry about eating the right nutrients and keep track of serving size. She also liked that I try to eat whole grains whenever I can, and that I overall have a good sense of what I should be eating. Still, she did have some tips for me.
First, I need to increase my water intake. I already knew that. However, she told me that my “water intake” doesn’t necessarily have to be water. As long as what I am drinking is sugar free (or at least low in sugar) and caffeine free, it can be included in my servings of water each day. She encouraged me to add flavors to my water, as long as the flavors are low in sugar. I’m happy about that, because I’m a huge fan of those crystal light packets that you shake up in your water bottle.
The second suggestion of my nutritionist is that I should eat lean protein in every meal. My veggie delite sandwiches from subway are no longer going to be a regular part of my diet! I should be eating up to 6 ounces of lean protein three times a day (even beef), as long as it’s not fried. I also need to increase my calcium, which she recommended that I have at least two cups of low fat milk or yogurt every day.
Fiber is the next big thing. My nutritionist told me that having a high fiber diet will help lower my HDL and LDL levels, and so I should be eating 25 to 35 grams of fiber every day. She gave me some literature on what ideal sources of fiber are, how to increase fiber without changing a lot of what I eat (like switching to whole wheat flour), and which fruits and vegetables are highest in fiber. I need to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day (which I usually not a problem for me).
I was encouraged to eat three big meals every day, no matter how busy I am. She also encouraged me not to snack too much. This way, it is easier to keep track of the ratio of nutrients I am eating. She recommended the plate meal planning method, which was introduced to me by a nutritionist that I saw when I was 14. In this method, half of your plate should be non-starchy vegetables, one quarter should be lean protein, and on quarter should be breads or starchy vegetables. This method works no matter how big the meal is, because it is a ratio instead of a set measurement. When I do choose to snack, I should be eating fruits and vegetables.
My favorite thing that my nutritionist told me was that my guilty pleasure is okay. I eat ice cream in some form every single day. Why? If I don’t, I’m a nightmare to be around. I get really cranky, and ice cream just makes me happy. However, my nutritionist said that I am at the ideal weight for my height, and my blood glucose levels are actually lower than they should be, so as long as I’m not stuffing myself with it, ice cream every day is ok.
I feel a lot better about ending my vegetarianism now, and I’m definitely excited that I wasn’t yelled at for my ice cream habit. I tried to give it up when I first started running, and everyone that I hang out with was telling me that I needed to stop being so cranky. I’m definitely not cranky today!