Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Hannah: Sara and I have spent a great deal of time sharing some of the major ideas and concepts of nutrition, but what are we really trying to say? You can eat anything in moderation, don’t be afraid to eat fats, don’t overload on refined carbohydrates, and get nutrients from food not pills. If anything, we want our readers to understand that eating healthy isn’t a punishment or too difficult. Planning a healthy diet seems overwhelming at first, but understanding the basic theories of nutrition aids with the lifestyle.

Writing blog posts and discussing concepts of nutrition with Sara and our professor have expanded my knowledge about nutrition and have encouraged my passion for the topic. The post I personally learned the most from is “The evolution of fat theory,” the material I studied to produce the post challenged my current knowledge about fats.
Sara: We hope that these posts has made you look at the food you eat differently. Our bodies need food for everyday activities and we mentioned the food for athletes. I hope that by reading this you have assessed what activities you are apart of or want to be apart of. A huge goal of this was to be able to encourage eating well for YOU, as an individual.

- Hannah and Sara

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Vegetarian Diet

We have emphasized everything in moderation and variety; a vegetarian diet may be one route to healthy eating if you feel you are not a meat lover. Whether it is the taste, texture or simply don’t like cooking it; a vegetarian diet can be accomplished two ways: healthy and unhealthy. Lower amounts of meat may be convenient for your busy lifestyle, wallet, or healthy living decisions. By being vegetarian you are able to avoid unsaturated fats and cholesterol from animal fat, but also you may be losing sufficient amount of protein, omega-3’s, and iron. By cutting out animal meat here’s what you may be missing:
  • Iron
  • Vitamin B-12
  • Vitamin D (Especially for those who have limited sunlight)
  • Zinc
  • Protein (Both essential and nonessential)
Lower amounts of these nutrients and vitamins may lead to deficiencies over time, but by going vegetarian the healthy way you can still get everything your body needs through whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, dairy and eggs. Vegetarian diets are flexible and not as strict as vegan (no animal products: meat, dairy and eggs) but there are different levels, which may fit better for your lifestyle and taste buds.
There are different ways of being vegetarian:
  • Semi-Vegetarian: Also can be called “flexitarian” because it is those who live by a vegetarian diet majority of the time, but will eat meat on occasion.
  • Pescatarian: Those who avoid all forms of animal protein except fish.
  • Lacto-Vegetarian: Those who avoid all forms of animal products including eggs, but will consume dairy products.
  • Ovo-Vegetarian: Those who avoid all forms of animal and dairy product, but do not eat eggs.
  • Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian: Most popular, are those who avoid all meats, but still consume dairy and eggs.
The most important part of having a vegetarian diet is to substitute the lack of meat for other high protein and nutrient dense foods. Plant protein can be found in kidney beans, peanut butter, chickpeas, tofu, nuts, edamame, and veggie burgers. By simply adding a handful of nuts or peanut butter on bread you can aid protein. Iron, which is essential for red blood cell production, needs to be consumed with food containing Vitamin C to improve absorption of plant sources of iron. Vegetarian sources of iron include dark green leafy vegetables, soy products and actually dark chocolate! Awesome right?! Don't think you can eat the sugary processed dark chocolate this has to be the “real” stuff.
Next, Vitamin B-12 is essential, but can be found in many fortified cereals, milks and supplements. A person with a vegan diet may be more at risk for Vitamin B-12 deficiency. Vitamin D is important for bone health because it works with calcium in our body. As a Michigander the winter months bring pale and pasty skin and little sunlight. Vitamin D with sunlight can be absorbed and contribute to some of our Vitamin D intake, but when sunlight is limited the risk for deficiency increases especially for those who avoid meat. Again fortified cereals, grains or dairy products can buffer the amounts and help maintain energy, strength and bone health. Finally, zinc, which is important for growth and wound healing is a common deficiency because animal meat has such high amounts of it, which makes a vegetarian have to consume larger amounts from other sources. Sufficient sources include whole grains, nuts, legumes, soy products and cheese.
The hardest part to vegetarian diets is the what you are choosing to replace meats in your diet. Meats are filling and are sustainable for a long amount of time and so overconsumption of carbohydrates is common. Also we see a trend of sugary and processed foods because these foods are tied to quick and process carbohydrate snacks. It is important to have balance between carbohydrates for energy and fats for satiety. Beans, rice, legumes, grains, edamame, and quinoa will fill you up with sustained energy. This is followed by fruits and vegetables in variety to get all the vitamins and nutrients you need. Some of my favorite vegetarian recipes include a spinach kale salad with chickpeas and hard boiled eggs or quinoa with black beans and salsa to add some spice. Playing around with tastes, grains and veggies will help avoid temptation towards to unfilling carbs.
A vegetarian diet has its positives and negatives and once again, I emphasize everything in moderation and with variety. A vegetarian diet can be very healthy when done right. Planning is key and knowing your foods helps broaden the scope for not missing the essentials.

  • Sara

Vidal,J. (2004, August 23). Meat-eaters soak up the world's water. Retrieved April 14, 2015, from http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2004/aug/23/water.famine
Clark, N. (2014). Protein: Building and Repairing Muscles. In Nancy Clarks' Sports Nutrition Guidebook (5th ed., pp. 140-145). Newton, MA: Sports Nutrition Services.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

MyPyramid to MyPlate

Over the years many food guides have been published to assist the public with making healthy food choices. These guides all try to follow four basic goals:
1.     Benefit overall health without promoting specific diets or focusing on specific diseases
2.     Form statements around the most current and correct dietary science
3.     Focus on all aspects of the diet
4.     Build on the strengths of previous food guidelines.
The most common food guidelines are the 1992 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Guide Pyramid, the 2005 USDA MyPyramid, and the USDA MyPlate (2011).
The 1992 USDA Food Guide Pyramid was published. This image stacks food groups with the group with the largest recommended intake on the bottom and smallest on top. This pyramid portrays grains and carbohydrates as the most important food group. The main errors with this illustration are that it can be confusing to read and that it does not specify what types of foods to eat within each food group. For example, it says to eat 6-11 servings of grains but does not recommend which types to eat; in past blog posts we have established that not all carbohydrates are equal.
1992 USDA Food Guide Pyramid
Food Group
Recommended Amount
6-11 servings
3-5 servings
2-4 servings
2-3 servings
2-3 servings
Fats and Oils
Use sparingly
In 2005 the USDA introduced a revised version of the MyPyramid. This new model depicts the food categories in a more vertical fashion implying that it is necessary to eat from each food group. With that said this pyramid still depicts carbohydrates as the food group with the highest recommended servings. Another modification to the pyramid was the addition of the exercise component. The side of the pyramid is a set of stairs with the purpose of encouraging the public to be active and pair a healthy diet with physical activity. Downfalls of this guideline include: the confusing display and the heavy emphasis on carbohydrates.
2005 USDA MyPyramid
Food Groups
Recommended Amount
6 oz.
2.5 cups
2 cups
5.5 oz.
3 cups
Fats and Oils
Not included
Then, in 2011, Michelle Obama helped unveil the newest dietary guideline called MyPlate. This guide is designed around what each meal should look like and it supposed to be used in conjuncture with the rest of the content on choosemyplate.gov. This recommendation permits flexibility meaning that it allows people to substitute foods for an equal alternative. For example, fat free yogurt can substitute fat free milk because it supplies the same nutrients. This new visual also eliminates some of the confusion of the other guides because it is a great representation of what individual meals should look like on average and it is an easy image for children to understand. However, it does not supply the public with enough information to help them choose healthy food options. Because this model is supposed to be used with the rest of the website those without access to it are left with too vague of a description of a healthy diet. Additionally, MyPlate does not address that some food choices are healthier than others in a food group; for instance, potatoes are healthier than french fries.
2011 MyPlate
Food Groups
Recommended Amount
¼ plate
Vegetables and Fruits
1/2 plate
¼ plate
1/2 cup
Fats and Oils
MyPlate is a tool created by the USDA used to help illustrate what a healthy meal looks like in terms of proportion and variety. The take home message from this post is that nutritional science is progressing; in the sense that each day we learn more and apply that knowledge by editing the recommendations of a healthy meal or daily dietary requirements. The 1992 MyPyramid, 2005 MyPyramid, and 2011 MyPlate images are tools that prove the evolution of our understanding.

Davis, C. A., Britten, P., & Myers, E. F. (2001). Past, present, and future of the food guide pyramid. American Dietetic Association.Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 101(8), 881-5. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/218404938?accountid=39473
Fuhrman, J. (2011, June 15). Disease Proof : Disease Proof : Health & Nutrition News & Commentary : Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Retrieved November 22, 2015, from http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/news-usda-replaces-mypyramid-with-myplate.html
Out with the Pyramid, In with the Plate. (n.d.). Retrieved November 22, 2015, from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/plate-replaces-pyramid/
Sizer, F., & Whitney, E. (2012). Nutrition Tools – Standards and Guidelines. In Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies (12th ed., p. 45-47). Belmont, California: Yolanda Cossio.

Whitney, E., & Rolfes, S. (2013). Planning a Healthy Diet. In Understanding Nutrition (13th ed., p. 45-47). Belmont, California: Yolanda Cossio.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Now that we have made it through the macronutrients and some specifics about them; Hannah and I have we will now be exploring some interesting nutrition topics that we are curious about. For myself I try very hard to eat “real” food. I try to stay away processed food, but they are everywhere. A recent movement that has caught my attention is the Non-GMO Project. GMOs are genetically modified organisms. So in other words, it is the modification of living organisms, which in this case is mostly our food. Many countries including: Japan, Australia and those in European Union consider that these foods are not safe. United States as of now has very limited regulations and allows GMOs due to advantages in food production and agriculture. I do not want to go into the politics that revolve around GMOs and the labeling rules, but instead I want to give the facts and truths about the food and how it affects us.
According the Non-GMO Project website, not all the GMO food is labeled even though 80% of processed food contains GMOs. A recent list of high-risk foods contains alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, soy, and sugar beets. Without knowing it, we eat genetically modified food every day and this is how it has been for hundreds of years. Genetically modified food does not mean that we injecting chemicals in the food we eat, but rather taking seedlings, for example, and trying to enhance its growing year or resistance by another plant organism. Genetically changed by other plant antibacterial makes our mass crops more stable against disease and higher in production. Safety concerns arise because the changes to the plants will have effects on us as humans.  The health risk to humans though is not fully known. According to the CDC, antibiotic in our meat are impacting us as humans and the risks are increasing with a higher amount of consumption over time. This is meat specifically not all foods.  Organizations who feel that GMOs are safe disagree with the GMO Project. Reasons for their argument include: altered crops are more resistant to stress, have additional nutrients, land is being used efficiently therefore more production and longer shelf life of our foods. The GMO Project website emphasizes how “bad” GMOs are but I also wanted to share other points of view so you yourself can decide and further look to make your own decisions.
Avoiding the modified food is the most difficult part because they are also place alongside organic labeled food. Requirements for organic food are: not be grown with certain pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge or genetically modified seeds. Organic food is a great option to avoid to pesticide, fertilizers, and GMOs, but it comes at a cost. Some organics food are double “regular” prices, you would think with less fertilizer and pesticide spent for agriculture it would bring prices down?! On the contrary, the price is raised due to the decrease in overall amount of food that can be grown. Crops may not be as bountiful compared to those who used commercial fertilizers and pesticides simply. Organic and non-GMO options are intriguing to most people, but yes it does come with a price. If this is something that you are interested in more, the Non-GMO Project website has many links that lay out their cause, current policies along with list of foods and brands. Some brands they have listed are:

  • Annie’s
  • Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop
  • The Gluten Free Bar (GFB)
  • True Goodness by Meijer

Being GMO free may not make you look “healthier” and more “fit”, but our food and what we put into our body has to be our decisions and if we want to eat cleaner for ourselves and our environment a GMO free or organic diet may be an option for you.

(2013, May 2). Retrieved November 13, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db121.htm
GMO Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2015, from http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/