Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. Minerals and vitamins, although part of energy-yielding reactions in your body, cannot provide energy directly. Many have antioxidant, or cell-protecting, functions (e.g., vitamins A, C, and E; copper; iron; selenium; and zinc). It is important to consume the DRI amounts for vitamins and minerals (or at least obtain 70 percent of the DRI) to maintain overall health.
Check out: How to stay motivate to workout
Don’t Get Overwhelmed
You may be feeling overwhelmed thinking about consuming each of the macronutrients and the micronutrients (all the vitamins and minerals) each day. However,
if you consume a diet that is varied, includes five to eight servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and is composed mostly of whole foods and less of processed foods, you will be doing your body good. You may also feel daunted by the idea of consuming five to eight servings of fruits and vegetables per day, but remember that these servings include fruits and vegetables (not five to eight servings of each!), and that a serving can be a medium banana, 4 ounces (118 mL) of 100 percent fruit juice, 1/2 cup of broccoli, and the like. The website ChooseMyPlate.gov can help you better understand serving sizes, as well as your particular requirements. Consider the following simple guidelines for proper micronutrients intake:
- Whole grain is better than processed or white grain.
- More color is better than less color (e.g., dark green leafy vegetables, deep red vegetables and fruits, and dark blue or purple fruits have more vitamins and minerals than those with less color).
- Less-processed foods are best.
Fix Your Goal
Often, contemplating how to improve your diet is difficult because it is hard to know where to start. As with any change it is important to focus on short-term and long-term goals. Consider a long-term goal of cutting down on fat intake as well as improving the nutrient content of your diet (e.g., increasing consumption of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables). A short-term goal might be, I will pack my lunch (including vegetable sticks, lean meat sandwich on whole-wheat bread, piece of fruit, and a yogurt cup) rather than stopping at fast-food restaurants each day for the upcoming week.
It is specific in terms of the activity as well as the time frame. At the end of the week, you can reflect on whether you packed a lunch (measurable). The goal provides for specific action to be taken (i.e., it is action-oriented) and is an activity that can be accomplished without excessive difficulty (i.e., it is realistic). A specific time frame is provided so that the action starts now rather than being too open-ended (i.e., it is timely). And finally, as you set goals, each will be self-determined. Following are other examples of short-term goals to intake micronutrients properly:
- To stop at a local farmer’s market each weekend for the next month to select enough fruit to provide at least two selections each day
- To include a salad with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and carrots, topped with low-fat vinaigrette dressing, for dinner on at least two days during the upcoming week
- To replace an afternoon candy bar from the vending machine with a piece of fruit and some almonds
Use Online Tools For Micronutrients
Another, more in-depth way to monitor eating is to use an online tracking tool. Online tracking tools allow you to enter in the foods you eat in a given day and give you a breakdown of all your nutrients and the food groups you consumed within that day. Although there are many online tools to use, Choose MyPlate(https://www.choosemyplate.gov), developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has an extensive in-depth database. Choose MyPlate works by allowing you to track your meals by entering them into a personal profile. After meals are entered, the online tool is able to give an extensive breakdown of calories, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and micronutrients. This can help you identify changes that you may need to make in your diet, whether it be increasing or reducing the intake of a certain food group or nutrient or increasing or changing your exercise routine. Although many tools are available for use, it is important that you focus on your own unique lifestyle and behaviors. Building on short-term goals and maintaining those healthy behaviors will ultimately result in success at reaching your long-term goal.
Check out: 15 Food hacks for healthy life