About Reality in Nutrition Education, Preventing Chronic Diseases
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Asking the question “why do we eat?” seems like an obvious one. We eat because we’re hungry. Food provides us with the energy we need to support our everyday activities and, ultimately, promote our survival. The sad reality is that nutrition education is rarely a priority in the school system. This is most likely due to the fact that most schools simply don’t have the time or the resources to focus on food/nutrition education. Also, people can “easily” educate themselves on the internet. Many people are unaware that diet plays an essential role in preventing and treating certain chronic diseases. Thus, without the proper guidance, patients may follow a dangerous pathway and produce greater complications.
Physicians and nurses are often the first people to counsel patients about how their diets and lifestyle habits affect their everyday activities. As a future nurse, this course taught me how to create a meal plan that promotes good health. It also taught me how important it is to make necessary lifestyle changes to live a normal life, specifically for someone who lives with diabetes. Finally, this course taught me how nutrition affects changes in the immune system and vice versa.
One important aspect I learned from this nutrition course was how to use diet-planning guidelines to make wise nutrition decisions that promote good health. We live in a world with more than enough food to choose from. Our daily food choices are greatly influenced by taste and habit. Therefore, it is easy for us to choose food without paying any attention to its nutrient contributions or health consequences. According to the Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition textbook, you must keep in mind six basic diet-planning principles when developing a meal plan: adequacy, balance, kCalorie control, Nutrient density, moderation, and variety.
Adequacy in a diet provides the body with “enough of all the nutrients to meet the needs of healthy people”. We lose nutrients every day by participating in regular activities; therefore, we must replace these nutrients with more found in our food. I’ve noticed that I feel very lethargic after a few hours of not eating. I will plan to eat small snacks throughout the day to keep my energy level consistent. Balance refers to “consuming enough – but not too much – of different types of foods in proportion to one another”. All foods are not created equal. I learned that it is important to not eat too much of one type of food because it may lack essential nutrients.
When I was in college, I ate a lot of rice and broccoli because I knew it was fairly healthy and incredibly easy to make. However, I ignored the fact that rice and broccoli don’t contain all the essential nutrients my body needs. Therefore, I will add a variety of foods into my meal plan to get an adequate amount of nutrients. kCalorie control is another important principle to keep in mind when planning a meal; the key is to choose foods of high nutrient density. Nutrient dense foods “deliver the most nutrients for the least food energy”. In addition, moderation refers to eating foods rich in solid fats and added sugars only on occasion. This principle emphasizes how our food choices are often influenced by taste. Therefore, adding variety will not only give the body with many nutrients, but it may refrain you from going back to those tasteful foods – rich in solid fats and added sugars – by keeping the meal plan interesting and new.
Another facet I learned from this course was the significance of making necessary dietary and lifestyle changes to allow people to live long, healthy, and productive lives – especially people with diabetes. I am not diabetic; nevertheless, I learned many approaches to help patients manage diabetes as well as how to prevent myself and others from ever getting diabetes. Type I diabetes is a condition where destroyed pancreatic cells cannot produce insulin. This condition often develops during childhood or adolescence and has a genetic component. On the other hand, type II diabetes is the most common form and is known as non-insulin dependent diabetes. Your body does not make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels.
Type II diabetes is often diagnosed in individuals who are over 40 years old; however, children and teenagers who are obese and physically inactive are at risk. Therefore, there are simple lifestyle strategies – weight management, dietary modifications, active lifestyle, and regular monitoring – that help prevent the development of diabetes. Millions of individuals have diabetes and so many don’t even recognize they have the condition. Therefore, it is important that we, as future health care provides, educate our fellow citizens with the knowledge and skills necessary for prevention and treatment. Maintaining a healthy body weight is an important guideline for diabetes prevention. This recommendation is accomplished by adopting a healthy eating behavior and a moderate daily exercise. Physical activity helps prevent hypoglycemia, which is the main focus of this disease.
According to the Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition textbook, “adults with diabetes are advised to perform at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week”. However, physical activity benefits other aspects of health such as, reducing the risk of a heart attack, lowers blood pressure, lowers blood cholesterol levels, creates stronger bones, and manages weight. It is a goal of mine to include a modest amount of physical activity in my daily routine. I will encourage and educate others to do the same as it is such a simple way to increase long-term health. For individuals who have diabetes, managing homeostatic glucose levels becomes the essential reason for treatment. Good glycemic control requires frequent evaluations and an appropriate meal plan. This class has taught me to be more mindful of my meal planning. I am more aware of how certain foods are beneficial for my body while others can cause harm.