The building blocks of understanding how what we eat and how much of what we eat effects us is based upon understanding that the human body needs to have minimum requirements of certain food groups, vitamins and minerals. One of the most important concepts is that different types of food are perceived by the body to be of different values. In other words, certain foods are more valuable because they produce more energy when the body uses them (or burns them) for keeping the metabolism ‘running'. Not only does the body use certain types of food preferentially for energy creation, the body actually looses certain types of chemical elements during the course of a day. These losses may have a profound effect on how efficient the body is able to function.
Doctors and allied health experts (i.e. nutritionists, therapists, exercise trainers) use these fundamental basics to evaluate a person's overall nutritional status or weight characteristics. In overview and in simplistic terms, a nutritional team will be able to asses a person by their work up of that person. A comprehensive ‘normal' diet history and physical exam are of great importance. They may look at the characteristics of the patient's normal diet, the person's history for diet practices, significant weight changes, alterations in appetite, the use of dietary supplements, history of food intolerances, and difficulties with bowel functions. The person's history of other medical conditions and medications is also of great importance and is not overlooked. The physical exam will typically and specifically include notes of muscle mass and tone, subcutaneous fat, and external signs of overall nutritional status. The team may also draw blood work and check a urine sample to evaluate further and more completely. The best way to examine or evaluate nutritional status is a technique to measure nitrogen balance. This practice is usually not utilized in a ‘routine' evaluation and is beyond the scope of this section.
In the world of non professional nutritional assessment and dietary planning, it is simply the person who tries to figure out how much food they should be eating and then tries to figure out what types of foods, minerals, vitamins and dietary supplements they should be consuming. This is actually a more difficult way to go about weight control because it relies upon a non expert to construct the correct diet and exercise plan. What further complicates this self guidance is that after you may have figured it out, your metabolism may change soon after and you will need to readjust your diet and exercise plans to continue with weight loss or to maintain your weight. Weight Awareness recommends visiting a health care professional early in this process, at least to assist you in understanding what some of your unique problems or conditions may be. They may be able to assist you in avoiding a great deal of frustration and prevent you from losing your weight loss enthusiasm. Weight Awareness is not intended to replace the health care professional; it serves as an educational footing to make people more aware of the issues associated with weight and its problems. We strongly encourage you to visit the ‘Find a Professional' locator on the site to visit with a health care professional.
The changes that you learn to make will influence you but will also serve to influence all those people that you in turn will teach. Most importantly, your loved ones.