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How Does Your Diet Stack Up Against Recommended Guidelines?

How Does Your Diet Stack Up Against Recommended Guidelines?

No matter how many blogs, magazine articles and books you read about maintaining a healthy diet, it can take a lot of discipline to get all of your required vitamins and minerals on a day-to-day basis. Add to that the challenge of our hectic lifestyles, it’s no wonder many of us grab meals at a drive-through window.

That challenge is reflected in a study that showed that 87 percent of Americans aren’t eating the 2 to 3 servings of vegetables recommended by the federal government on a daily basis. According to studies, one out of every four Americans is eating fast food every day. 

Some of the nutrients your diet is most likely missing include calcium, magnesium, fiber, Vitamin D, iron, folic acid, Vitamin A and potassium.

So, what does a healthy diet look like? Harvard University gave us a glimpse of what an ideal diet would be for a postmenopausal woman in its health publication. To get all your vitamins and minerals — from calcium, Vitamin A and Vitamin B to magnesium, folate, selenium and zinc, you would need to eat a diet that looks something like this 1,200-calorie diet (leaving room for other healthy snacks):                                         

Breakfast: 8 oz. nonfat yogurt; ½ cup sliced papaya; ½ cup sliced kiwi; 1 oz. (14 halves) walnuts; 4 oz. skim milk

Lunch: 1 small whole-wheat pita; green salad with 1 cup dark green lettuce; 1 red or orange pepper; 1 cup grape tomatoes; ½ cup edamame beans; 1 Tbsp. unsalted sunflower seeds; and salad dressing made with 1 tbsp. olive oil, balsamic vinegar and pepper.

Dinner: 4 oz. broiled wild salmon and yogurt sauce (1 tbsp. Greek-style nonfat yogurt, 1 tsp. lemon juice, 1 clove chopped garlic); ¼ cup cooked barley and ¼ cup cooked lentils;

1 cup steamed baby bok choy

The takeaway? Try to work more vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and whole grains into your diet. If necessary, take supplements like magnesium, zinc and selenium to ensure that you’re getting your recommended daily intake (RDI). To make sure you’re getting it right, keep a diary of your diet for a week or two to see where you’re falling short.

When supplementing, look for those that contain several minerals and vitamins. For instance, Wonder Lab offers a supplement that contains calcium, Vitamin D-3 and magnesium in one capsule. The minerals can boost bone health. Another supplement combines calcium magnesium and zinc to help those whose diets are low in those minerals. If your diet is low in calcium, you could be at risk for osteoporosis — a condition that can lead to fragile bones.