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.
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 😉
(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!