Calcium Confession

August 25, 2010

My diet is, on the whole, very healthy. My parents raised my brothers and I on good, wholesome food. Watching my mother in the kitchen and the joy she had cooking and reading recipes, as well as tasting her food, which was always served with a side of love (oh so corny but oh so true) ignited my love of food and cooking. For this I will always be thankful. I guess it was no surprise that I wanted to make food my career. Studying nutrition only further sparked this love. It also gave me a deeper understanding of the true value of good nutrition.

I feel my best when I put proper fuel into my body. Hence, the bulk of my diet consists of vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, lean meats, oily fish and legumes. I find it only natural to practice what you preach as a Dietitian. Having a healthy diet is…what is the opposite of an occupational hazard?

I recall one assignment at University, when we were required to keep a detailed food journal for one week. At the end of the week, we entered everything we ate into a nutrient analysis program to see what our diets looked like in comparison to Australian recommendations. I met the Recommended Dietary Intakes (RDIs) for each nutrient except one…calcium.

Calcium is my nutrition Achilles heel, my one downfall! Every day I have to consciously make sure that I am eating enough calcium-rich foods so I can reach my RDI, which for my age (19-50years) is 1000mg per day. It is not that I don’t like dairy products, I do. It is just that I tend to neglect them in favour of other foods. Most days I simply do not eat enough dairy products, not in the quantity required to meet my RDI. Do you?

This is what 1000mg per day looks like:

A 250mL glass of milk (~300-400mg, depending on the brand)
A 200g tub of yoghurt (~300-350mg)
30g of tasty cheese (~300mg)

Note: calcium is also found in other foods including bony fish (salmon, sardines) and custard. Almonds, leafy greens such as spinach, and dried fruits also contain calcium, however not in the same large quantities as in dairy.

With a family history of Osteoporosis, I am very conscious of the fact that lately I have let my calcium intake slip. I’m not quite sure why, however I’m tempted to blame a recent persistent sinus infection. Whatever the reason, I need to pull up my socks and get my dairy on.

Hello friends, you’ll be seeing a lot more of me…

For as long as I can remember, I have hated the taste of plain cow’s milk. In addition, I don’t like to rely on vitamin and mineral supplements to give me what I can get from food. Therefore it will require a little effort and creativity to reach my 1000mg of calcium each day. I’m up for the challenge. Are you?

I am aiming to meet my RDI for calcium every day for 2 weeks, starting today. Hopefully by then eating more dairy will have become a habit and I can easily continue it for life. I’m seeing lots of fruit smoothies, low-fat cheese and salad sandwiches, and yoghurts for dessert in the near future…yum!

If you like, you can join me in this little health challenge. Is there a particular food or nutrient that you don’t eat enough of (or perhaps eat too much of)?

Oh! Look at the time… it’s smoothie O’clock 😉

Heidi xo

(blueberry, blackberry and banana smoothie – amazing)

A quick Dietitian note, because I cant help myself: if you are avoiding milk from an animal (i.e. cows or goats milk), be sure to purchase a milk that is fortified with calcium. Most soy milk brands (and lots of almond milk brands too) are fortifying their products these days, however some are still unfortified and therefore are not an appropriate dairy substitute in terms of calcium. Make sure you check the carton before purchasing!

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  • Sally August 25, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    This blog is fantastic Heidi I am really enjoying the new recipes which I am definitely going to try ,the muesli slice could be a winner in the cafe, and the dialogue is so much fun.

  • Heidi August 25, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Thanks Sally! That means a lot coming from your lovely self 🙂 lots of love xo

  • Char August 25, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    heidi! whats a girl to do if she is both lactose and fructose intolerant? no cereal, no fruit smoothies….do i try supplements? x char

  • Heidi August 25, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Ooh tricky one Char, that makes less fun for you! Have you tried lactose-free milk/yoghurt? Hard cheese has v little lactose so a 30g serve is usually tolerated. If you're not a fan of the lactose-free milk/yoghurt, then you will most likely need a supplement xo

  • KittyCate August 25, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    That smoothie looks fantastic!
    I don't have any issues with my RDI of calcium because I go NUTS for a glass of fresh, cold milk – has to be full-cream and organic, and non-homogenised if possible (nothing yummier than the creamy part at the top LOL) I know its probably not the healthiest to drink so much full-cream milk (think 2-3 mugs per day) but I don't have weight or cholesterol issues plus I happen to know that full-cream milk is only 2% more fat than skim! So for me its all good 😀
    Oh and yoghurt, mmmm – Jalna European brand with a drizzle of honey, I die! (Sorry for hijacking your blog with my dairy obsession LOL)

  • Heidi August 25, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Hijack away, please! 🙂 I love to hear good yoghurt tips! I've recently discovered Vaalia French Vanilla. Amazing.
    Good work on getting lots of calcium! I wish I liked fresh, cold milk! xo