On this day, a nursing student conducted a 24-hour diet recall for a nutrition assignment. The student’s findings resulted in totals of 2,048 calories, 289 grams of carbs, 62 grams of fat, 79 grams of protein, 3,380 milligrams of sodium, and 48 grams of sugar. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the daily nutrient recommendations to promote healthy weight control that is based on this students age, gender, weight, and height are as follows: 2,423 calories, 273-394 grams of carbs, 89 grams of protein, 54-94 grams of fat, and sodium intake should be as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally adequate diet (DRI Calculator, 2019).
The student’s diet had nutritional deficits regarding fruits and vegetables along with eating a surplus of processed foods. The recommended daily intake of fruit is 1-2 cups and vegetables vary between 1-3 cups (ChooseMyPlate, 2019.). Amongst the lack of fruits and vegetables, the student consumed an excessive amount of processed foods during the diet recall. A 2016 research study showed that 60% of calories, 70% of sodium, and 90% of sugars were contributed to eating highly processed foods in the American diet (Can Processed Foods, 2017). From a nursing perspective, it would be beneficial to educate this student on the importance of a well-balanced diet and the risks of eating highly processed foods. The nurse could recommend the student to include healthier snacks in their lunch, such as grapes or dried fruit snacks. Additionally, recommend that the student partake in preparing meals for the week ahead of time.
In contemporary society, nutritional deficits are still very common. Food deprivation in childhood has been linked to developing poor food habits as adults (Individual, Household, and Environment, 2015). Children and important members of the household make an enormous impact on food choices when rationalizing cost versus the quality of food that is purchased (Individual, Household, and Environment, 2015). Low-socioeconomic communities utilize community resources such as attending events where food is handed out, pawning items, and consuming out-of-date food items from local food banks (Individual, Household, and Environment, 2015). As a healthcare provider, it is important to take into consideration the socioeconomic status of the patient before recommending diet modifications. Studies have shown that low income households do not have the time to prepare healthy meals due to household factors like working long hours and multiple jobs, low income, and the number of children in the household (Individual, Household, and Environment, 2015). Dieticians and physicians can provide patients with nutrition education, but it is the nurses duty to reinforce these teachings. Taking all socioeconomic factors into consideration, the nurse can educate the patient at their bedside about the purpose of the restricted diet that was ordered during the patient’s hospitalization and how it will benefit the patient’s health long term (Reed, 2014). Providing a brief nutrition education with every meal will clarify the benefits of each specific diet and encourage the patient to make healthier food selections.
A poor nutritional diet and lack of physical activity is related to the increased rate of chronic diseases over the past century (Dietary Guidelines, 2015). Almost half of the adults in the United States have been diagnosed with one or more diet-related and preventable chronic diseases, which include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity (Dietary Guidelines, 2015). The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines provides five comprehensive guidelines to encourage choosing healthier food options, promote shifts in food and beverage choices, and recognize society’s role in promoting healthy eating habits (Dietary Guidelines, 2015). These guidelines are as follows: follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan, focus on variety, nutrient density, and portion control, limit calories from sugars, saturated fats, and reduce sodium intake, shift to healthier food and beverage choices, and support healthier eating patterns overall (Dietary Guidelines, 2015). These guidelines take into consideration that contemporary society no longer consumes food by groups, but rather a variety of food that is based upon personal, cultural, socioeconomic, and traditional preferences (Dietary Guidelines, 2015). Every guideline listed is a feasible modification to implement into one’s daily eating habits and could help reduce a family’s nutritional risks.
Nutrients are broken down into six classes: carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water (Taylor, Lynn, & Bartlett, 2019). Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are nutrients that supply energy to the body (Taylor et al., 2019). The most abundant and least expensive calorie source in the world is carbohydrates (Taylor et al., 2019). Carbohydrates is converted into glucose to be transported through the blood (Taylor et al., 2019). Proteins are mandatory for forming all body structures and are separated by animal proteins which are complete (high quality) and plant proteins which are incomplete (low quality) (Taylor et al., 2019). Saturated fats are responsible for raising cholesterol levels while unsaturated fats lower cholesterol levels (Taylor et al., 2019). Vitamins, minerals, and water are responsible for regulating body processes (Taylor et al., 2019). Vitamins are organic compounds that are absorbed in the intestines and are important for metabolizing carbohydrates, proteins, and fats (Taylor et al., 2019). Minerals are categorized by macro-minerals (phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium) and microminerals (iron, zinc, and iodine) which are responsible for performing critical functions in the body from strengthening bones to transmitting nerve impulses (Taylor et al., 2019). One of the most important nutrients in the body is water. Water aids in absorption, circulation, digestion, and excretion processes (Taylor et al., 2019). In addition to acting as a fluid medium for chemical reactions in the body, water is contained within cells and accounts for 50-60% of an adult’s total weight (Taylor et al., 2019).
Food plays an important role in social events, religious ceremonies, holidays, and traditions. Being a culturally competent nurse is important to the health and healing of patients. A nurse can educate a patient about the nutritional deficits of vegetarianism when trying to promote wound healing (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2018). An unbalanced vegetarian diet may lack important nutrients that delay the wound healing process such as iron, zinc, and protein (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2018). Being familiar with vegetarianism, the nurse would educate the importance zinc plays in the process of wound healing and recommend increasing zinc-rich products, such as soy, into the patient’s daily diet (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2018). Zinc plays an important role in the proliferation phase of wound healing (Taylor et al., 2019). Protein deficiency, which is common in vegetarianism due to limited sources, increases risk of a skin injury and interferes with the healing process (Taylor et al., 2019). By considering the nutritional deficits of vegetarianism, dietary recommendations by the nurse is crucial when promoting wound healing.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2018, April 16). Tips to Keep Your Vegetarian Child Healthy. Retrieved from https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/vegetarian-and-special-diets/tips-to-keep-your-vegetarian-child-healthy.
- Can Processed Foods Be Part of a Healthy Diet. (2017, April 1). American Heart Association. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/processed-foods.
Individual, Household, and Environmental Factors Affecting Food Choices and Access. (2015, April 23). National Center for Biotechnology Information. (Caswell, J. A. & Yaktine, A. L., eds.) Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK206912/.
- Reed, D. (2014). Healthy Eating for Healthy Nurses: Nutrition Basics to Promote Health for Nurses and Patients. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 19(3). doi: 10.3912/OJIN.Vol19No03Man07
- Taylor, C., Lynn, P., & Bartlett, J. L. (2019). Fundamentals of nursing: the art and science of person-centered nursing care (9th ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2019). DRI Calculator for Healthcare Professionals. Retrieved from https://fnic.nal.usda.gov/fnic/dri-calculator/.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2019). ChooseMyPlate. Retrieved from https://www.choosemyplate.gov/.
- U.S Department of Health and Human Services, & U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2015, December). Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020 (8th ed.) Retrieved from https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.