Ietary Analysis Biology 2320: Human Nutrition
//Instructions for Dietary Analysis Biology 2320: Human Nutrition
Observe and analyze a diet of your choosing: Most people will want to analyze their personal diet, but others may wish to analyze the diet of a friend, colleague, or family member (with their permission of course). Some may wish to analyze the diet of a population or civilization for which they have sufficient dietary information.
The following instructions pertains to personal dietary analysis, but can be modified as needed to address the analysis of another person or population.
People often eat automatically or get into habits that may not be in the best interest of their health. As noted in your book, there are many sources of pressure that influence eating habits, some of which may place you at risk for disease or simply not deliver the energy necessary to get through a busy day without greatly exceeding calorie needs, making weight a problem as time goes by. The tragedy is that most harmful dietary habits are very simple to correct without exhorting to extremes that are potentially dangerous. But to make any beneficial change requires observation of your present diet. This is typically done with a dietary analysis.
The first step in the dietary analysis is to record what you eat over a three-day period. The best way to do this accurately is to keep a journal and write down exactly what you eat. There are some pitfalls to avoid, if you want accurate information.
1. Write down everything you eat including sauces like mayonnaise or ketchup for example that have significant calories. If you eat a soup or a sandwich, be sure the record each component.
2. Donat be influenced by the fact that you are keeping journal. Donat break your normal routine when recording what you eat. That is potentially a significant source of error if you are concerned about accuracy.
3. Include one weekend day in your recording. People generally eat differently on the weekend than during the week.
4. Be aware of quantity. Either carefully measure or accurately estimate portions. Here are some helpful hints:
Cooked vegetables and cereals, 1/2 cup is usual serving.
Dry cereals, 3/4 cup is usual serving, except for grape nuts, 1/3 cup.
Raw meat loses about 25% of its weight due to water loss; 1/4 lb. (4 oz.) of uncooked meat is a usual serving. Also check your book for typical portion sizes. But most importantly, record what you eat, not what is typical.
Weights and Measures
1 cup 8 oz. 1/2 pint 16 Tablespoons (Tbl) 240 ml
1 Tbl 3 teaspoons (tsp) 15 ml
1 oz. 28.35 gms or 3 oz.
100 g 1/2 cup of most foods
5. Do not include supplements (pills). You may mention them in your discussion.
6. Record also your activities, because they will influence your dietary needs.
Once you have a journal, you are ready to enter the information in to a dietary analysis program. A simple program to use is the supertracker found at the website
Once youave entered the data, the program will give you a number of reports. You can look at macronutrient distribution (% protein, fat, carbohydrate) or any single nutrient compared to DRIas. Then you can print the appropriate sheets and interpret your results.
Results for your dietary record
You can print several screens
1) Spreadsheet s with your dietary record of meals
2) Macronutrient percentage sheets
3) Single nutrient analysis sheets
4) 3-day averages compared to recommendations
With this data, itas best to create your own chart or graph that tells the story of the diet in question. Follow the basic method of reporting in science journals. Produce an:
Results (This is where you place your charts and data.)
There are different ways you can use this information. For example, you may want to discuss any nutrient that is less than 100% of the goal on the 3 day average. (The following nutrients are not well represented in the database, so there is no need to discuss them. Biotin, pantothenic acid, molybdenum, magnesium, chromium, and essential amino acids)
You may discuss the any of following:
a? Calorie intake and whether is meets your needs
a? Macronutrient percentages and how they fit into dietary recommendations
a? Any single nutrient compared to recommendations
a? Fiber intake
a? The foods you might omit or add to improve your diet
a? The strengths and weaknesses of your diet
a? How your lifestyle affects your food choices
A good model for reporting the results of your analysis is by reviewing the paper on the Tarahumara Indians that I placed for you under a?papers.a?
To make these discussions more relevant, itas helpful to analyze your diet by answering the following questions:
1. What are your five most important sources of calories? List them in order from highest to lowest.
2. List your five most important sources of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
3. What is your intake of fruits and vegetables and how do they match recommendations? List your five most important sources of each.
4. Divide your remaining carbohydrates into the following categories:
b. Starches that have been baked or fried
c. Starches that have been boiled or steamed
This is a very effective way to get a realistic picture of your carbohydrate intake. Healthy civilizations typically consume a significant portion of their starches in the form of boiled or steamed grains, beans, and potatoes, which is a sharp contrast to the modern diet.
5. List your food sources for the micronutrients that fail to match recommendations.
The foods you have categorized are your staples. Staples are the foods you live on. To get a complete picture of your diet, you must know what your staples are. Itas not sufficient to look only at how the numbers match recommendations.
With this information, you are in position to ask questions pertaining to the adequacy of the diet you are analyzing. Do they meet your needs? Can they be improved? Analyze your diet as you would analyze the diet of an interesting civilization. You want to know not only whether the values for nutrients match recommendations, but what foods are important to that civilization.
Be thorough, but concise. Tell me in a simple fashion, backed up by data, the story of the diet in question in an easy-to-follow format and draw the conclusions that you think are pertinent.