Essay: Diet to Achieve Weight Loss

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¶ … diet to achieve weight loss has become a common thought in the minds of overweight individuals. As the obesity epidemic continues to sicken industrialized nations, people think that crash diets, food deprivation, and starvation are the answer to reaching weight loss goals. To achieve a weight loss goal and maintain a healthy weight is not the result of a diet one can "go 'on' and 'off'" (Boyle, & Long, 2010, p. 291). Losing weight and sustaining a healthy lifestyle involves consuming foods that provide proper nutrition and promote health. In addition to adequate nutrition, losing weight involves adequate physical activity, calorie control, and other factors (Wing, & Phelan, 2005). Maintaining a healthy weight demands a lifestyle change that incorporates regular exercise and healthy foods and is not a product of various fad diets when weight is continuously lost and regained.

My personal weight loss goal is to lose 30 pounds to reach an ideal, healthy weight of 150 pounds. I am a 34-year-old female who works 50 hours a week, I attend school one day a week, and I have to manage my son's after-school schedule. Like many other working mothers, I have a hectic schedule, am constantly busy, and have significant family and work priorities. Although my time is valuable and often restricted, I am committed to losing 30 pounds with a healthy approach. To reach my goal, I will apply the knowledge I have gained about proper nutrition to my lifestyle. First, it is important to acknowledge the need for nutritional intervention and understand why individuals fail to make healthy consumer choices. Knowing what constitutes good nutrition, incorporating change in one's diet for a lifetime of success, and understanding the importance of exercise all contribute to what I have learned, and will be implemented into my own weight loss planning. The incorporation of vitamins, eating habits that promote health, understanding environmental influences, calorie control, exercise, and goal setting are all major components of my weight loss journey and the ultimate achievement of a healthy lifestyle.

Food culture drastically changed in the 20th century as prepackaged, processed foods were mass produced in the marketplace at a cheap cost for consumers. Over recent decades, refined foods rich with sugar and fats have become highly affordable, easy to make, and have become a staple of the American diet (Insel et al., 2011). Consumers of these products have strayed from eating habits that have been the standard for centuries, which include diets of fresh meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Currently, the most commonly consumed grain in the United States is white bread, and the most frequently eaten vegetable is the potato, which is often in the form of french fries. In the present, more refined cereals, soft drinks, and juice drinks high in sugar are devoured than ever before (Insel et al., 2011). Many individuals and families turn to these food sources out of convenience. In single parent families or families with two working parents who also manage busy school and after-school activities for children, preparing prepackaged, processed foods is understood as a way to save time and energy. National surveys have shown Americans know nutrition and food choices are important to maintain health; however, few dedicate themselves to such dietary changes as consuming less fat and sugar, and consuming more fruits and vegetables (Insel et al., 2011).

One of the major nutritional issues facing modern consumers is food shopping for convenience, rather than for health. Taking the time to prepare fresh vegetables and raw meat is viewed as another task that requires valuable time, whereas pre-packaged foods can feed a family quickly and keep them full, all at a low cost. There is also an abundance of foods that is marketed as low-fat, low-calorie, and fat-free options that can be misleading to the true nutritional value of the product (Boyle, & Long, 2010). Like many other individuals who purchase groceries at supermarkets, I am overwhelmed with food options that claim to be low-fat, low-calorie, and fat-free. There are also cereals high in sugar that state they are made from whole grains and promote "heart health." These types of advertising strategies can lead consumers to believe the prepackaged alternatives are as healthy as fresh foods and have high nutritional value. The knowledge I have gained concerning nutritional practices have shown me how important it is to differentiate between foods that promote health and foods that are commercially advertised as being "healthy." Being a nutritionally-educated individual has empowered me as a consumer and has helped me shape my goal for healthy weight loss.

Nutrition is the study of how food nourishes the body and is a critical subject to understand in order to apply healthy practices to one's lifestyle. If an individual lives for 65 years or longer, they will have eaten more than 70,000 meals, and their body will have metabolized 50 tons of food (Sizer et al., 2009). Nutritional knowledge allows for an individual to understand how the food they consume interacts with their body and affects health. The nutrients within foods interact with body tissues, alter the composition of these tissues, and ultimately affect the body's health. Over the course of the lifetime, the consumption of foods will influence physical and mental health. The best foods support the growth and nourishment of strong muscles, bones, skin, and enough blood to remove toxins and maintain parts of the body (Sizer et al., 2009). Eating foods that support bodily processes enhances the body's optimal level of health and performance.

The body requires sufficient amounts of water, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Water is the simplest and the most important nutrient. Water plays the most integral role in bodily processes and is responsible for such functions as sustaining body temperature, joint lubrication, and the movement of nutrients and waste (Insel et al., 2011). Carbohydrates consist of simple sugars, complex carbohydrates, contain the majority of dietary sources of fiber, and are used by the body mainly as a source of readily available energy (Brown, 2011). Dietary carbohydrates consist of the starches and sugars found in grains, dry beans, peas, fruits, and vegetables (Insel et al., 2011). Lipids are fats and oils, and also refer to fatlike substances in foods, such as cholesterol and phospholipids (Insel et al., 2011). Dietary sources of fat include naturally-occurring fats in meats and dairy products, the fats and oils used for cooking, and plant sources like coconut, olives, and avocado. In addition to being a major fuel source for the body, fats uphold the structure for body cells, provide the starting molecular structure (cholesterol) for making several hormones, and assist fat-soluble vitamins in the body (Insel et al., 2011). Proteins are constructed from amino acids and help build and sustain body structures, regulate body processes, and combine with additional amino acids to makes hundreds of different body proteins (Insel et al., 2011). The greatest sources of dietary proteins are meats and dairy products (Insel et al., 2011).

Vitamins and minerals are also essential elements of proper nutrition. Vitamins assist with the regulation of such bodily processes as energy production, blood clotting, calcium balance, and assist in maintaining the functionality of organs and tissues (Insel et al., 2011). Although the body does not utilize vitamins as a source of energy, vitamins are critical in the extraction of energy from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. There are two general groups of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble, both of which can be found in a variety of foods (Insel et al., 2011). Fruits and vegetables are significant sources of vitamins; meats, grains, legumes, dairy products, and fats also represent vitamin contributions. Minerals are essential to health, consisting of such inorganic substances as sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium (Insel et al., 2011). Minerals promote structural wellness such as bone and teeth strength, as well regulate important bodily functions such as fluid balance and regulation of muscle contraction (Insel et al., 2011).

Educating myself about the nutritional importance of water, carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals has helped me to better understand the need to balance these elements in order to maintain health. Having this knowledge has given me a new awareness of healthy foods, why they are important, and how they will assist my body in achieving optimal health and performance. Without my learning experience with nutrition, I would not have the necessary tools to make healthy food choices that will result in weight loss. For example, I now better understand the importance of choosing whole grains over white bread and other processed options. Instead of viewing bread as an ingredient needed for cooking, I view bread as a source of carbohydrates, energy, fiber, and vitamins. My nutritional learning experience allows me to make healthier food choices and has instilled new knowledge that I can use throughout my lifetime.

Balancing the proper amounts of water, carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals will help me create a dietary change for a lifetime of healthy weight. I have learned that… [END OF PREVIEW]

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