lettuce

Deficiency

I got a great comment from a reader, Katie, about my post about the Cron-o-Meter. Here is her comment:

“I’m really happy you published this. I would never have known about it otherwise. I’ve been using it for about 5 days now and really like it. In addition to being a good weight management tool, it’s excellent for figuring out where nutrition needs to improve. Within a few days, I found out that I’m not getting anywhere near the potassium or vitamin D I need each day. Now that I know, I can fix it. Yay!”

I was happy to read that she liked the website and was finding a lot of value in it. But her comment also reminded me that I wanted to write a follow-up post about what I’ve also learned about my eating habits. I know where I need work in terms of the basics: I eat too many carbs, I don’t drink enough water, and I need to cut down on my sugar intake.

Beyond that, I wanted to know what I was deficient in. I try to eat a fairly balanced diet. My snacks are fresh fruit, I eat a lot of veggies. What works for me is high protein meals, and I do pretty well in staying within my calorie range each day. But what was my diet lacking?

The following info is just to give you an idea of what I learned and where I’m deficient.

Day One

This example does not include the Multi-Vitamin I take with breakfast. I wanted to see what I was naturally low in just with the food I eat every day. The conclusion:

Low in Vitamin C

Low in Vitamin E

Low in Vitamin K

Low in Potassium

 

Energy: 2379 (2030 net) kcal / 1693 kcal (141%)
Protein: 121.3 g / 46.0 g (264%)
Carbs: 288.8 g / 130.0 g (222%)
Fat: 68.9 g / 65.0 g (106%)
95% of Nutritional Targets Achieved

 

Day Two

Low in Potassium

Low in Vitamin K

Low in Fiber

 

Energy: 1918 (1167 net) kcal / 1693 kcal (113%)
Protein: 94.5 g / 46.0 g (205%)
Carbs: 195.4 g / 130.0 g (150%)
Fat: 87.5 g / 65.0 g (135%)
95% of Nutritional Targets Achieved

Day Three

This day includes the Vitamin B and Multi-Vitamin I take. Even taking those vitamins, I’m still low!

Low in Potassium

 

Energy: 2083 (1344 net) kcal / 1693 kcal (123%)
Protein: 99.9 g / 46.0 g (217%)
Carbs: 194.5 g / 130.0 g (150%)
Fat: 102.9 g / 65.0 g (158%)
97% of Nutritional Targets Achieved

 

Conclusion

First, the site is awesome and I love how in-depth it is with the information. I see patterns in my tracking and it made me rethink some of the stuff I’m eating. Yes, I know I eat a lot of carbs. Some of that is from all the fruit I eat–which I won’t be changing. Second, I’m happy that my “Nutritional Targets” were all pretty high. For the most part, my nutrients were fulfilled. Now on to the deficiencies.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K aids in blood clotting, protects the heart, and helps to build bones.

Vitamin K is found in green, leafy, vegetables like kale, collards, spinach, and turnip greens. It can also be found herbs, scallions, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, cabbage and prunes. I eat a lot of salads and broccoli, so I’m actually surprised that I’m low in this. But it could just be that I’m not accurately recording the volume that I eat those things.

Potassium

Potassium is an essential nutrient used to maintain fluid and electrolyte balances in the body. A deficiency in potassium causes fatigue, irritability, and hypertension. This definitely makes sense to me!

Potassium rich foods are: avocados, apricots, bananas, prunes, raisins, pistachios, seeds (pumpkin, flax, etc), fish, beans, dates, chocolate, paprika and chili powder.

I used to eat a lot of bananas, but stopped eating them so often because of the high sugar content. I do eat a lot of fish and beans, so I’m surprised that I am deficient in Potassium. I also take a medication that can alter potassium levels in my body and I have to have an annual blood test to make sure my Potassium levels aren’t too HIGH. So this one makes me think it’s not a big issue.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E can help protect against heart disease, cancer, and age related eye diseases.

Foods rich in Vitamin E are sunflower seeds, almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, apricots, cooked spinach (yuck), herbs and green olives (martini anyone?).

I eat a lot of nuts but probably not a sufficient amount on a routine basis. I’m pretty hit or miss on how often I eat nuts–it’s usually just a “grab a handful at work to snack on” kind of thing.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a magical vitamin I think. It aids in developing scar tissue, blood vessels, cartilage, and dopamine. It’s a powerful antioxidant and in my line of work I need all the vitamin C I can get to keep from getting sick all the time!

The foods highest in Vitamin C are chili peppers, guavas, bell peppers, dark leafy greens (like kale and mustard greens), broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kiwis, oranges, and strawberries. YUM! It’s all foods I love to eat!

Fiber

I’ve raved about fiber many times before. It’s an awesome thing when you’re trying to lose weight because you feel full! Fiber helps with proper digestion of foods, proper functioning of the digestive tract at large, and for helping you feel full.

Fiber rich foods are beans (YAY!), dark chocolate (sign me up!), bran, flax seeds, sesame seeds, sun-dried tomatoes, nuts, leafy green foods (mustard greens, kale), and squash.

The Verdict

I need to start eating kale, apparently.

I also want to buy a digital scale to measure some of the veggies and things I’m eating. Part of me thinks that I am actually getting enough nutrients–I’m just not measuring correctly.

QUESTION: Are you deficient in anything and if so, what? What foods are you trying to eat daily to make sure you aren’t deficient?

Reinvent Your Lunch

Lunchtime doesn’t have to be boring or fattening. And it doesn’t have to be hard, either. It’s easy to make lunch a small meal, hoping to save some calories, but if you’re like me you’ll crash by 4 pm and start grazing. For me, the challenge is resisting the candy in the office when I’ve hit that afternoon slump. I’ve found that eating a decent lunch helps stave off that munching.

I used to eat Lean Cuisines for lunch because they were easy and low in calories. Now I am more apt to bring leftovers for lunch or soup and salads. I recently brought a couscous and chicken salad for lunch that I made with leftovers.

I like to pack things for lunch that are “bite sized,” meaning it takes awhile to eat the stuff. A few examples: sliced apples, sliced peppers and carrots, pistachios in the shell. Stuff that takes a long time to eat slows me down. Which I need. 🙂 (Check out this website that lists out some sample menus if you are just getting started trying to lose weight. There are some great suggestions.)

Here are some suggestions that I’ve found work well for my lunches:

1. Eat fish. Salmon is great hot or cold. I often use leftover blackened salmon cold on my salads.

2. Make a big salad. Top it with a rinsed can of chickpeas, some diced ham and lots of veggies. It’s surprisingly filling. Fruit is also excellent on salads–sliced strawberries, cranberries, mandarin oranges…all good. When I was doing the Slow Carb Diet I ate a lot of big salads for lunch. I added leftover salmon or chicken with beans and veggies and was stuffed.

3. Switch from mayo to mustard to spice it up and save the calories.

4. Instead of mayo on sandwiches, use hummus. Try a hummus and cucumber sandwich for something more exotic.

5. Make a lettuce wrap instead of using bread products. You can use deli meat with cream cheese or curried cooked chicken with chopped apples and green onions. Tuna fish works. You can get super creative with lettuce wraps.

(recipe)

6. Switch to soups. This works so great for me! Especially if the soup has beans. Lentil soup, or veggie and bean soup fills me up for hours.

7. Egg sandwiches are good and filling because of the protein. I used to make an “Egg McMuffin” for breakfast at home with an english muffin, a single slice of cheese and scrambled eggs. It was really tasty and would work well for lunch too.

8. Bean burgers or Boca Burgers without the bun. I’ve done this in a pinch when I didn’t have anything else. I just cooked the Boca burger in the microwave with a single slice of cheese and ate some veggies with Ranch dressing on the side.

9. Chili! It’s packed full of protein and will sit in your belly for awhile, especially if there are beans in the chili. If you’re a vegetarian, you can still make a delicious chili and get your protein in.

Meal planning is a big part of this. It takes just a little bit of effort and planning but having a plan will prevent the temptation for pizza or burgers for lunch.

Ever since I switched my lunches to something other than frozen meals, I have felt a million times better and more satisfied. I feel good about myself when I eat food that fills me up and doesn’t make me go off the charts with my calories. Counting calories will always be a part of my life and my daily duties, and I need food that is worth the calories.

QUESTIONS: What’s your typical lunch?