Friday, January 14, 2005

Blogging the Dietary Guidelines, part 1

Reading about the new Dietary Guidelines yesterday made me wonder: how easy is it to eat according to these guidelines? Could I do it?

My experiment for the next, oh, until I get tired of it, is to see if I can. I will try to integrate, as much as possible, the recommendations of the USDA into my lifestyle. Not the wine part, mind you. We must all have our standards.

When the Patient Partner learned this last night, saw my printouts from the USDA site as well as my little lab notebook, he said, "You are a fruitcake. Fruit. Cake."

I am still having trouble figuring out how many calories I should consume in a day. My swim coach estimated 3500, but that seems high, especially since teh USDA says that 33-year-old people who are "Active" (i.e. vigorous exercise every day) should consume 2800. I am not sure my coach and the USDA agree about what counts as vigorous exercise.

I know that no scientific data is meaningful without a baseline, so yesterday I recorded what I consumed. I acknowledge, I did make one slight modification to what I might normally have eaten, and probably there should be more than 1 day's data to establish a baseline, but this is pseudoscience, after all.

BREAKFAST (1059 calories)
1 Hardee's bacon biscuit
1 Hardee's sausage biscuit
8 oz. orange juice
18 oz. coffee
LUNCH (488 calories)
1 ham 'n' cheese Hot Pocket
2 cups strawberries w/ 1 t. sugar
1 Belgian chocolate (props to bkmarcus and brumaire)
DINNER (1221 calories)
2 oz. Lillet (served ice cold)
6 oz. roasted breast-meat chicken
1 cup mashed potatoes, made with sour cream & green onions (mmm)
1 cup roasted veg medley (carrots, parsnips, leeks)
1 T olive oil
375 ml wine white wine
1/3 c. B&J Karamel Sutra ice cream (with caramel core!)

CAVEAT: Some food amounts are estimates and some are carefully measured, and I am not revealing which is which.

1. I might not have eaten 2 cups of strawberries if I weren't thinking about the USDA stuff--and man were they good.

2. How about that breakfast!! It came to 1059 calories, if the Hardees people are honest on their website. But cut me some slack, reader. I swam hard for 1:15 this morning and last night for 2:15!!! So bite me, USDA. If I want to have 590 of my 1059-calorie breakfast come from fat, so be it.

3. Counting the calories in home-prepared food is made easier by this calorie counter.

4. In terms of total consumption, I ate closer to the USDA's recommendation for me than to my coach's. I will need to see how that goes.

5. I hit my target for fruit because of my super-strawberry lunch. On a normal day, I would not have come even close.

6. Vegetables are another matter. Where were the green leafy things?

7. It is almost impossible to eat processed food and observe the USDA's recommendations about sodium and fat. The new guidelines recommend consuming less than 2300 mg of salt (about 1 teaspoon) of salt per day. My Hot Pocket had 770 mg, my sausage biscuit had 1243 mg, and the bacon biscuit had 1110 mg. That is 3123 mg, before you try to estimate how much salt I used in preparing the chicken and roasted veggies (not a ton, but still).

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