I was wondering if anyone had put together an ideal daily food plan that ensures you get your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of all nutrients. Every vitamin, every mineral, everything, every day.
Is it out there? Has anyone done it?
So I went off in search and wondered how my diet fared with this theory and envisaged trying to work out all nutrients in everything I eat. Long laborious task – not enough time – really couldn’t be bothered – and while I was interested in the outcome, I didn’t want to have to do it. So I thought, there must be an app/website that does this and preferably for free, and indeed there is.
It’s called Cronometer.
So after you sign up for a free account with your email and put in a few stats about yourself like your weight, age, sex etc it calculates for you how many calories you should be having for maintenance, the calories used in what exercise you do, (not that I care about calories but it’s interesting) approximate basal metabolic rate and then you key in the food you eat and pick their serving size suggestions closest to the portion size you have.
And the results are fascinating. So from the macronutrients it covers the usual Protein, Fats and Carbs but even goes into more detail about the types of protein, fibre intake, types of fats, so you can see your omega 3 and 6 balance. And then the most interesting part to me was the vitamins and minerals.
Now it is set at basic RDAs probably in the US, which are pretty low – the nutrients you need daily to just be above not sick – where as actual health giving levels are much higher. The good news with this app is that you can adjust everything to suit the targets you are personally aiming for which is awesome!
So when I left the levels low, my diet was pretty good in terms of reaching RDAs. There were a few gaps in minerals but you can play around and see what would happen if you added 2 cups of spinach for example and see if the levels improved and quite feasibly you could find your perfect combination that would give you all your daily nutrient requirements.
However when I raised the RDAs only slightly to get to a more healthy level, it was nowhere near it. So I have my work cut out for me to find the perfect combination and quantities to get to a reasonably healthy level and I will report back when I find it.
A few interesting things I could read from it already were:-
My Omega 3 to 6 balance was way off – I have way too much omega 6 from peanut butter and other nuts without even touching the not so great oils that normally cause this. Need to work on the balance of this.
Carbs were higher than I thought – even from just fruit and veges my carb level was way higher than my ideal. And that is without even touching grains!
Protein – quite high, due to the supplementation I have been doing with protein powder and gelatin.
Iron was low – as a non-red meat eater, I expected this would be the case but it is an easy fix with spinach, broccoli and cashews of all things are high in iron! Who knew?
(Also just be aware that because a food theoretically has nutrients in it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s bio available to you. Things like storage, cooking, and combinations of food either reduce nutrients or block their absorption. Phytic acid for example in grains and enzymes in nuts block mineral absorption. Just so you know.)
I found the whole thing really fascinating but then again I am a nutrition geek and love all that stuff. (Not too much detail though or my eyes glaze over!) It’s great for a broad-brush overview of basically where you are at and a general guide to how you are tracking but if you have specific issues see a professional for sure.
But one thing is certain this beautiful meal that my hubby prepared for me last night – prawn salad with added baked lemon salmon is definitely on the right track with these two fishy foods packing a huge nutritional wallop.
If you are still eating packaged food, take away or junk food though, you have no hope to get to where you need to be.
So I know I am on the right track as I can feel it, I just need to play with this thing more to find my ideal daily combination that hits all the marks. And when I do, I will let you know!
Happy health to you!
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