# By Carrie Blodgett, GED 613, Fall 2009. A Mathematical View on Vegetarian Nutrition: It’s all about the choices you make I have a confession: I am not.

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By Carrie Blodgett, GED 613, Fall 2009

A Mathematical View on Vegetarian Nutrition: It’s all about the choices you make I have a confession: I am not much of a fruit fan, unless the fruit is combined with chocolate or layered in a cloud of whipped cream. I would much rather eat bread with butter than a salad, and my ideal meal includes pasta in a rich sauce with a side of garlic bread. You could say that I am a carbohydrate junkie with a mean sweet tooth. When I was younger, I did not pay much attention to what I ate, and I did not always make the best choices when it came to what I was putting in my body. However, within the last several years, I have become more conscientious about my eating habits. Since becoming a vegetarian, I have included more fruits and vegetables in my diet and I gravitate toward more nutrient rich foods. But I still have a lot to learn, and the choices I make on a daily basis are not always the best. I decided to take a closer look at what I eat. How does it compare to the food pyramid’s daily requirements? How do I know if I’m getting enough calories, too many calories, or too little? What does a serving size really look like? With each of these questions, I explored my eating habits not only at a nutritional level, but also a mathematical level. After all, it’s hard to learn about nutrition without understanding the math involved.

Hmm, how much of each group do I need? A Look at the Vegetarian Food Pyramid Hey, look! This pyramid is divided into nine different categories. The sections at the bottom of the pyramid are bigger, so that tells me I need to eat more of these foods. The triangles at the top of the pyramid are small. I should eat those foods, which include sweets and bad fats oils, sparingly.

Wow, I need to a lot of variety to eat healthy. How do I know how many servings of each group to have in one day? Grains: bread, rice, pasta, cereal: 6-11 servings Vegetables: 3-5 servings. At least two of these servings should include dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, or chard Fruit: 2-4 servings. Eat lots of berries for antioxidant bliss. Protein: Beans, nuts,seeds, eggs, and meat substitutes such as tempeh, tofu, or seitan: 2-3 servings (I tend to eat more than this) Dairy/Calcium: Milk or soymilk, yogurt, and cheese: 2-3 servings (Bad) Fats & sweets: Sparingly. Bad oils are oils that include partially hydrogenated fats. These fats are bad because they are trans-fats, which clog arteries. Good oils, such as olive or non-hyrdogenated canola oil, can be used in small amounts on a daily basis. Good oils can help you maintain a healthy cholesterol level.

If I ate the most recommended amount of servings from each group, I would eat 26 servings in one day! That really sounds like a lot. How big is one serving from each food group? Grains: 1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup cooked rice or pasta, 1/2 cup quinoa, 3 TBS wheat germ, or a 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal or grits Fruit Group: 1 medium apple, 1/2 cup berries, 1/4 cup dried fruit, 3/4 cup pure fruit juice, or 1/2 grapefruit Vegetable Group: 1 cup raw leafy greens, 1/2 cup cooked leafy greens or other vegetable, or 1/2 cup raw vegetable Protein Group: 1/4 cup tofu or tempeh, 2 TBS peanut butter, 2 TBS nuts or seeds, 1/2 cup cooked beans, or 1 egg (eat eggs only once or twice a week). Dairy Group: 1 cup milk or calcium-enriched soymilk, 1 cup yogurt, or 1.5 ounces hard cheese (cheddar)

Let’s Get Combo Smart! Can I really eat 26 servings in one day? Here’s a sample menu plan based on 26 servings: Breakfast: 1 cup cooked oatmeal with 3 TBS wheat germ, 1/4 cup raisins, and 3/4 cup calcium-fortified soymilk (Includes 3 servings of grains, 1 serving fruit, and.75 servings dairy) Morning Snack: 1 apple, 2 TBS almonds, 4 whole grain crackers (Includes 1 serving of fruit, 1 serving protein, and 1 serving grains) Lunch: Salad with 1 cup leafy greens, 1/4 cup red peppers, 1/2 cup carrots, 2 TBS sunflower seeds, & 1 TBS balsamic vinegar. Plus 1 whole grain roll with 1 tsp butter and 3/4 cup yogurt with 3 TBS wheat germ (Includes 3 servings of vegetables, 1 serving protein, 2 servings grains, and.75 servings of dairy) Afternoon Snack: 1 banana, 1 cup rye pretzel sticks (Includes 1 serving of fruit and 2 servings of grains) Dinner: Chickpea spinach curry over quinoa: 1/2 cup cooked spinach, 1/2 cup stewed tomatoes, 1/2 cup garbanzo beans, 1.5 cups quinoa. Beverage: 12 oz (1.5 cups) low-fat milk (Includes 2 servings vegetables, 1 serving protein, 3 servings of grains and 1.5 servings dairy). Dessert: 1 medium orange (includes 1 serving fruit) Total Servings: 26

Should I follow the Food Pyramid to a T? No! The food pyramid was originally created as a guide to help people make healthy choices. However, as a vegetarian, I believe that I should consume more than 5 servings of vegetables a day. I also know that it is very hard for me to eat 11 servings of grains a day. Just thinking of a menu that included 11 servings of grains was quite a challenge. So what do I do? I add more vegetables to my diet and try to eat at least 7 servings of grains a day, a number much easier to consume than 11. Vegetables are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants, which help our bodies fight disease. Therefore, you should not put a limit on how many servings of vegetables to eat in one day. My advice to you: try to eat more than 5 servings of vegetables a day. It’s really easier than you think, especially if you have a salad at lunch or dinner.

Calorie Math: How many do I need? Now that I know my daily recommended requirements for each food group, it’s time I figure out how many calories my body needs on a daily basis. My daily calorie needs are based on several factors: basic energy needs (the minimum of what my body needs to keep going), my level of physical activity, and my body’s digestion and absorption of nutrients. First, you should figure out your healthy weight. Look at the graph on the next slide. Compare your height to your weight to find where you belong. If you are in the moderate to severe overweight category, find your healthy weight. You will use your healthy weight to figure your calorie needs. This will help you understand how many calories your body needs to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

I am 5’5 and 128 pounds. According to the graph, I have a healthy weight. Now it is time to figure out how many calories my body needs on a daily basis. Below are four calculations to help you find your daily calorie needs. These calculations are from The American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food and Nutrition Guide (Larson Duyff, 1998). 1. Calculate your basic energy (calorie) needs: Multiply your healthy weight by 10 for females and by 11 for males. Here is my calculation: 128 x 10= 1,280 Calories for basic energy needs. 2. Calorie needs for physical activity. What activity best matches your lifestyle? Sedentary: Do you sit for most or all of your day? Light activity: light housework, 10-15 minute walk Moderate activity: 30-45 minutes exercise most days (I.e. brisk walk, dance, stair step) Very active: are you an active athlete?

Calorie math continued… Multiply the calories you use for basic energy needs by the percent that matches your activity level: _____ calories for basic energy needs x ___% for activity level If you are sedentary, multiply by 20% If you are lightly active, multiply by 30% If you are moderately active, multiply by 40% If you are very active, multiply by 50% I am between lightly and moderately active, so I will multiply by 35%, since that is between the 30% and 40%. 1280 my calories for basic energy needs x 35% (.35) my activity level Total calories for physical activity: 448

Calorie Math Continued… 3. Figure the calories you use for digestion and absorption of nutrients: Add your calories for basic energy needs and calories for physical activity. 1,280 + 448= 1,728 Now Multiply your answer by 10%: 1,728 x 10% (.10)= 172.8 My body uses 172.8 calories for digesting and absorbing nutrients. 4. Now add up your total calorie needs by adding your total calories from each category: calories for basic needs + calories for physical activity + calories for digestion and absorption = total daily calories. 1,280 + 448 + 172.8= 1,900.8 I’ll round it to 1,901. I need to consume 1,901 calories a day to maintain my healthy weight.

Am I Meeting My Needs? Adding It All Up Let’s take a look at what I ate on November 28, 2009. Did I meet my daily requirements for each food group? How did I do on calories? Too much, too little, about right? Breakfast: 1 cup oatmeal with 1/2 cup soymilk, 1 TBL ground flaxseed, 1/4 cup frozen blueberries, and 1 tsp maple sugar. Mid-morning snack: 1 banana Lunch: 1.5 cups Annie’s boxed mac & cheese, with 1/2 cup steamed broccoli, 1/4 cup soymilk (instead of regular milk), 1 TBL nutritional yeast Afternoon snack: 1/4 cup dried cranberries and 1/8 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Food Journal Continued… Dinner: Salad with 1 cup romaine lettuce, 1/2 cup green and orange peppers, 1/8 cup sunflower seeds and 1 TBL light balsamic dressing Homemade pizza with homemade crust. Toppings: tomato sauce, veggie pepperoni, veggie sausage (Boca), green and orange peppers, yellow onion, and mozzarella cheese (3 slices, each slice about the size of one slice of toast) Later: 2 beers (each 8 oz) at The Three Penny Taproom Even later (uh oh, late night snacking): Shared a plate of nachos with two other people. I am guessing I ate about 1/3 of the nachos. Included in the nachos: refried beans, tomatoes, olives, cheese, and guacamole. I think that 1/3 of the nachos was equal to about 1 cup, give or take.

Food Journal Continued… Below is a chart of my food journal. It shows how many servings of each food group I ate on November 28. Food GroupBreakfast Lunch DinnerSnacksTotal Grains 2 3 3 1 9 Fruit.5 2 2.5 Veggies 1 3.5 4.5 Protein 2.5 2.5 Dairy/ Calcium.5 2 3.5 I met my daily recommended amount (RDA) in every category. I was a little over in the dairy department. Too much cheese!

Calorie Math: Adding it all up Now the fun begins. How many calories did I consume on November 28? It is difficult to find the exact amount of calories in each serving, especially when I combine different food groups into one meal. When counting calories, the best way to add it up is to ESTIMATE the best you can. These estimates are based on my serving sizes. Here it goes: Breakfast: Oatmeal, 110. Soymilk, 40. Blueberries, 20. Ground flaxseed, 30. Total: 200 Snack: banana, 85 Lunch: Annie’s mac & cheese, 405. Soymilk, 40. Broccoli, 22. Total: 467 Afternoon snack: dried cranberries, 90. Chocolate chips, 85. Total: 175 Total this page: 927

Adding It Up Continued… Dinner: salad with veggies, sunflower seeds, and light dressing, 240. Pizza, 3 slices: 175 per slice. 175 x 3= 525. Total Dinner: 765 Trip to the Three Penny Taproom: Two 8 oz beers: 230 Trip to Julio’s for some late night noshing: 1/3 of nachos with refried beans, olives, tomatoes, guacamole: 548 Total dinner, beer, and nachos: 1,543 Total Calories for November 28: 927 + 1,543= 2,470

Oh, No! On November 28, I consumed about 2,470 calories. To maintain my healthy weight, I should consume around 1,901 calories a day. Where did I make some poor choices? After dinner I went out with some friends. Although I had only two small glasses of beer, the beer did add 230 calories to my diet. Then I went to Julio’s for some late night snacking. I did share the plate of nachos with my friends, but I still consumed around 548 calories. That was a high- calorie snack, and I also had it late at night, another poor choice. Late night snacking can often lead to weight gain because instead of working off the calories through exercise and daily routines, you just go to sleep afterwards. What if I didn’t have those nachos? How many calories would I have consumed? 2,470-548= 1,922, a total more in my daily requirement range

Reading a Nutrition Label All prepackaged food requires a nutrition label. This helps consumers determine how many calories, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and specific vitamins are in the food. Reading nutrition labels can help you decide if the food is something you want to eat or if it is something that you should pass up. Here are the features on all nutrition labels: Serving Size: A serving size applies to one serving. If a serving size is one cup, the nutrition facts stated on the label are for one cup. If you ate two cups instead of one cup, then you would have to double the amount listed on the label to figure out how much (fat, fiber, protein, etc.) you consumed. Calories: The calories listed are for a single serving. The label also lists how many calories are from fat. % Daily Values: The percentages tell you how much the serving contributes to a diet based on 2,000 calories

Nutrition Label Continued… Nutrient Amounts: This includes the amount of fats, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, and protein that are in a single serving. Vitamin A, calcium, vitamin C, and iron are also always listed on nutrition labels, because these are the vitamins that are essential to our diets but are often overlooked. Daily Values footnote: This is located at the bottom of the nutrition label and tells you the daily values of how much fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, and fiber a person can consume based on a 2,000 and 2,500 calorie diet. For example, a person who consumes 2,000 calories a day should have less than 65 grams of fat in one day. A person with a 2,500 calorie should have less than 80 grams of fat in one day. The next slide shows an example of a nutrition label and what you should consider before buying or consuming the food item.

Comparing Two Similar Items I felt like having yogurt for a snack. I had two different brands of low-fat yogurt in my refrigerator. Both yogurts are 6 ounces (oz.). The raspberry yogurt is made with 1% milk fat and the honey yogurt is made with 2% milk fat. Let’s take a look at the nutrition labels to see what one would be the best choice.

Comparing Two Labels Cabot Greek Style Honey Calories: 160 From fat: 25 Total fat: 3g (5%) (Sat. Fat 2g) (9%) Cholesterol: 20 mg (7%) Sodium: 75 mg (3%) Total Carb: 25g (8%) Dietary Fiber: 0g Sugars: 24g Protein: 13g (26%) Vitamin A: 15% Calcium: 25% Vitamin D: 15% Vitamin C: 15% Vitamin E :15% Iron : 4% Wild harvest Raspberry Calories: 130 From Fat: 15 Fat: 1.5g (2%) (Sat. Fat 1g) (5%) Cholesterol: 10 mg (3%) Sodium: 85 mg (4%) Total Carb: 25g (8%) Dietary Fiber: Og Sugars: 21g Protein: 5g Vitamin A: 0% Calcium: 20% Vitamin C: 4% Iron: 0% Both items are based on one 6 oz. serving

Comparing Two Labels Continued… What yogurt did I choose? Although the Cabot yogurt was higher in fat, I decided to eat the Cabot yogurt because it contained a higher content of protein, vitamins A,D, & E, calcium, and iron. The Wild Harvest yogurt was lower in fat and cholesterol, but it contained only 5 grams of protein and had lower daily value percentages of vitamins and calcium. Sometimes the lowest fat option does not always mean the best option. You want to make sure your body gets enough essential nutrients on a daily basis, and those nutrients include protein, vitamins, calcium, and iron. If a food is low-fat but skimps on these nutrients, it may not be the healthiest choice.

Calcium and You A vegetarian diet is not much different than a meat eater’s diet when it comes to meeting daily requirements. However, some dieticians are concerned about the amount of calcium vegetarians consume in their diets. If not careful, vegetarians can end up low in calcium. When people do not consume enough calcium, they are at greater risk for osteoporosis and other conditions that make bones brittle and weak. It is also important to get enough vitamin D. This is called the “sunshine vitamin” because most people get this vitamin through direct sunlight. Calcium and vitamin D work together to make your bones healthy. One cannot work without the other. Several months ago, I realized that I was not eating enough calcium. To make matters worse, I found out I was deficient in vitamin D. I knew I needed to change my diet so that I would get enough calcium. I also have to take a pretty strong vitamin D supplement to combat my low vitamin D numbers.

Calcium and You Adult females should consume about 1,500 mg of calcium a day. Adult males should consume 1,200 mg of calcium a day. That really sounds like a lot, but think about it: a 6 oz container of lowfat yogurt has 25% of your daily value of calcium. How much of 1,500 mg would 25% be? 1,500 x 25% (.25)= 375 mg By eating one serving of yogurt, I have eaten 1/4 of my daily calcium requirement. But I can’t eat four yogurts in one day! What are some other calcium rich foods? Believe it or not, calcium is not only found in dairy. Check it out: Tofu (processed with calcium): 435 mg per 1/2 cup serving Calcium-fortified orange juice: 225 mg (3/4 cup) Soymilk (fortified): 250-300 mg (8 ounces) Blackstrap molasses: 170 mg (1 TBL) Turnip greens: 100 mg (1/2 cup)

Calcium and You: Take the Calcium Quiz Want to find out if you are getting enough calcium? take this quiz to find out. It asks you how much calcium you ate the previous day. When I took the quiz, my numbers came up pretty short. The website gave me several suggestions of calcium-rich foods to add to my diet. Click on the link below to take the quiz: http://www.eatsmart.org/games/c_calculator/ This link is also very helpful. However, it said my calcium needs were only 1,000 mg a day, but I believe it should be closer to 1,500 mg a day. http://myoptumhealth.com/portal/ManageMyHealth/Calcium+Calculator

End Note Now you know a little bit about nutrition and the math involved in figuring out serving sizes, daily requirements, calorie consumption, and more. I feel like I barely touched on all the different elements of nutrition, but it was a start. If you feel overwhelmed by all the choices at supermarkets, just Remember the more whole the food is, the better it is for you. You can’t go wrong with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and dairy products that do not contain growth hormones, pesticides, or other freaky stuff. Now that you have the tools to figure out your daily needs, you can make choices that will benefit your overall health. May you enjoy good food. Reference: Larson Duyff, R. (1998). The American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. Minneapolis: Chronimed Publishing.

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