Then along came the class “Fundamentals of Nutrition” and last week’s 3-day Intake Analysis assignment, and it was like someone opened the curtains in a dark room. All my nutritional info tumbled out on the screen and it took my eyes a few minutes to adjust and my brain to assimilate. It was the darndest thing.
Being a vegetarian, I'm asked a lot, “How do you get your protein if you don’t eat meat?” I’ve been a little concerned about that myself. Obviously not concerned enough to actually track my food intake, but I wondered. Apparently my concern was for naught. I exceed the recommended daily intake of protein for a woman my age and size by 30 percent! I take in a solid 61-80g of protein per day, well above the recommended 54g.
How, you ask? Here is a list of my top 15 as it pertains to my 3-day intake. Keep in mind this does not include other protein sources such as legumes, oatmeal, and peanut butter as this is only a snapshot of three days.
Fage yogurt – 15gSoymilk – 5.1g
Homemade Curry Carrot-Leek Soup – 5.67g
Roasted soybeans – 7.57g
Genisoy soy chips – 7g
Asparagus – 4.37g
Egg whites – 10.79g
Sargento reduced-fat Swiss cheese – 7g
Homemade vegetable soup – 4.11g
Ak-Mak crackers – 4g
Homemade horseradish hummus – 3.16g
Crimini mushrooms – 3.74g
French bread – 3.76g
Cabot 75% reduced-fat cheddar cheese – 9g
Veggie burger – 7.13g
When combined, my spinach salads weigh in at over 15g of protein. My salads always include some type of protein (cheese, beans, edamame) in the 7-10g range, and together the vegetables contribute another 5-8g.
This analysis confirmed for me once again why I became a vegetarian: I like to eat. A lot. I’d rather obtain 15-20g of protein by eating a bigass salad that takes me 20 minutes to consume than eat a 3-oz piece of white meat chicken that’s gone in a few minutes or less.
Other things I learned: I’m smack dab in the middle of the recommended daily intake for each of the macronutrients. Approximately 53% carbs, 15% protein, and 21% fats.
Speaking of carbs, a friend recommended the book “WheatBelly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health” by William Davis, MD. Davis is a cardiologist who makes the argument that cutting wheat out of our diets drastically improves blood sugar levels, decreases risk of heart disease, and – of particular interest to me – reduces the pain of osteoarthritis.
I started reading “Wheat Belly” yesterday while sitting in an Irish pub in downtown Lancaster. I was dining alone, so I brought my Nook. I was enjoying a glass of wine (yes, it was 1:30 in the afternoon…*grin*) and had ordered a chicken and bacon salad sans the meat. The greens and veggies sounded awesome, as did the accompanying avocado slices and gorgonzola cheese (I’m a freak for bitter cheese). I wondered if they’d serve it with bread. The thought wouldn’t have crossed my mind a few weeks ago, but I’ve been giving serious consideration to going wheat-free, thanks, in part, to my friends Debbie (who recommended the book) and Lori at Finding Radiance).
Sure enough, on top of the salad was an amazing looking whole-grain-something kind of breadstick with little seeds in it. I wanted to eat it sooooooo badly, to dip it in the roasted tomato vinaigrette and take in every last bite until I was in a temporary psychedelic carbo-coma. But I didn’t. I ate all but one avocado instead. And to think, I used to be afraid of avocados! I mean, come on…avocados are nothing but fat, right? Run away! Run away!
But avocados are NOT the food to freak out about. Avocados are rich in poly and monounsaturated fats, the “good guys” of fats. Not that it’s wise to overindulge on the good guys, but eating avocados was a better choice than the god-only-knows-what’s-in-that-breadstick breadstick.
I admit…it was rough. I’m so completely and utterly devoted to wheat it’s sick. Yes… sick. I want it all the time. Some people easily control themselves, and I do control myself most of the time, but it’s a fight every day. The craving has me in a stranglehold, baby. (OK, now I have Ted Nugent in my head.)
So…what to do, what to do? The answer is obvious. I need to cut out wheat for awhile and see how I feel. Be my own science experiment. This will take some planning. I don’t do cold turkey well. If any of you have ideas, please pass them along! If you limit or have eliminated wheat, how did you do it? How do you feel when wheat-free?
As to the nutrition assessment, I learned a lot from the analysis assignment, but I’m not going to quit Weight Watchers. Counting Points works for me and I’m not in the mood to reinvent the weight-loss wheel. But I highly recommend that those of you who count Points, or anyone who doesn’t know their dietary intake numbers, to track their food intake in a program such as SparkPeople’s nutrition counter or Calorie King’s Nutrition and Exercise Manager. Know your numbers! It’s pretty darn empowering.