Nutritional Strengths & Weaknesses, Behavior Changes & Dietary Guidelines
PERSONAL CHALLENGES I FACE CONCERNING DIETARY BEHAVIORS
As an over-the-road truck driver, the main challenges I have are occupational. Finding nutrient-rich food is extremely limited. Having time as a team truck to participate in healthy lifestyle activities like physical movement or cooking is also difficult to overcome. We try in small ways to remedy these challenges by purchasing fresh produce that mimics a Mediterranean diet from Walmart. We work out focusing on calisthenic movements and finding optimal ways to release pain on the truck. Through all our efforts and sacrifices made for the multitude of big goals we have, we still fall short. This being said, we keep trying to improve our health and wellness because, ultimately, over time, our bodies, minds, and wallets will benefit.
THE KEY TO ACHIEVING AND MAINTAINING A HEALTHY DIET
There is a life rule that many people use when change is the goal called the 80/20 rule. I have seen it used in all areas of success; I like to think of it as an excellent general rule to life. In achieving and maintaining a healthy diet, think of starting this goal with 80% nutrient-rich foods and 20% other foods. Some people are successful at achieving goals by going at it 100%, but from my own experience changing my behaviors to match the goals I desire, this strategy often fails. Setting up milestones within the larger plan is the most effective way to achieving any goal.
Nutrition and diet is such a controversial topic with no one specific answer to which method is best. However, most diets have commonalities as to what foods have a healthier impact on the body. To start eating healthier, it is essential to keep it simple and use a common-sense approach to find foods to eat. Once the behavior of eating healthier begins to be a dependable routine, seeking new credible knowledge on diet and nutrition is a necessity. Another type of knowledge that is important is self-awareness. Collecting data on mood, behavior, thoughts, sleep, relationships, spirituality, etc., will help one improve self-awareness to gauge which foods have the most personalized benefit.
THE PLAN OF CHANGE: OUT OF ALL THE DIETS, WHERE SHOULD I START?
Knowing the challenges of the trucking world and how it affects overall health and wellness, I want to create a plan to change, but HOW?
A straightforward five-component plan to use when faced with an abundance of food choices is A. B. C. M. V., ask yourself if the diet you habitually eat consists of Adequacy, Balance, Calorie control, Moderation, and Variety. If any of these five components are not met then, nutritional disorders can occur.
A nutritional disorder is when the body is not getting the necessary nutrients it needs, not having the ability to absorb nutrients, or not having a diet that provides such nutrients.
Adequacy is providing all essential nutrients, fiber, and energy to maintain health and weight. One of the most common nutritional disorders is Iron Deficiency. The most common type of Iron deficiency or (ID) is iron deficiency anemia and is caused by a lack of iron in the body. This is important because a lack of iron can lead to a lower red blood cell count. Iron is used to produce red blood cells, which help store and carry oxygen in the blood. If you have fewer red blood cells than is normal, your organs and tissues won’t get as much oxygen as they usually would (NHS, 2020). If iron deficiency is left untreated, it can cause cardiovascular issues, weakened immunity, fatigue, impaired muscular performance, decreased ability to maintain body temperature on exposure to cold, mucosal and epithelial abnormalities, pica, disturbances in menstruation, adverse pregnancy outcomes, and decreased mental development of children (Barton et al., 2020). A few iron-rich foods to add to improve iron intake are Red meat, pork, and poultry, and dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach (NHS, 2020).
Balance provides your body with foods in appropriate proportion to each other, ensuring that all nutrient-rich foods do not overshadow each other. A diet that has an imbalance of calcium intake can cause poor bone development during the critical youth growing years and increases the susceptibility of developing osteoporosis. The most calcium-rich sources are milk products (Sizer & Whitney, 2016).
Calorie control manages the energy intake of food and balances this intake with energy expenditure with physical movement and what is required for optimal body function. Using this technique in managing diet can help with weight management (Sizer & Whitney, 2016).
Moderation is used to limit amounts of foods to prevent excess intake. Moderation does not mean abstaining from foods unless suggested explicitly by a physician. Placing limitations on nutrition can help increase any health goal, such as limiting salts or sugar.
Variety is providing a diet with many options. The book Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies (14th ed.) by Sizer and Whitney (2016) suggests that a varied diet is more likely to be adequate in nutrients. A monotonous diet may deliver large amounts of toxins or contaminants. Variety also brings back the emotional component by keeping one interested in their diet and it being pleasurable.
BUT WHAT ABOUT PORTION SIZES?
As a trucker with limited options, following any specific diet to the letter is a whole other challenge. I have tried to use the My Plate suggestion among others and what I have found is that all nutrition has some evident principles, but the element of nutrition that makes the difference for you is unique to you. Please go out and experiment with all the diets that make the most common sense for you; one of my personal favorites is the Mediterranean diet. With the table below, use it as simple guidance when picking groceries or eating out, and remember to think of Adequacy, Balance, Calorie control, Moderation, and Variety.
Stay MOTOvated!! Live MOTOvated!!
Sizer, F., & Whitney, E. (2016). Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies — Standalone book (14th ed.). Cengage Learning. https://content.ashford.edu/books/Sizer.2199.17.1
Barton, J. C., Wiener, H. H., Acton, R. T., Adams, P. C., Eckfeldt, J. H., Gordeuk, V. R., Harris, E. L., McLaren, C. E., Harrison, H., McLaren, G. D., & Reboussin, D. M. (2020). Prevalence of iron deficiency in 62,685 women of seven race/ethnicity groups: The HEIRS Study. PLOS ONE, 15(4), e0232125. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0232125
NHS. (2020, February 1). Iron deficiency anemia symptoms and treatments. Https://Www.Nhsinform.Scot. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/nutritional/iron-deficiency-anaemia#:%7E:text=In%20women%20of%20reproductive%20age,of%20iron%20in%20your%20diet.