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Week 1: Introduction to Nutritional Science

April 4, 2021
Brenda I. Belcher

Week 1: Introduction to Nutritional Science

“Lose weight without dieting!”
“Eat the miracle, disease-fighting berry.”
“Try our new, all-natural, trans-fat-free, whole grain cereal.”

The daily influx of nutrition information can be hard to digest. Commercial claims spoon-feed information to consumers about nutrition and food that is not always based on fact and science. Does nutrition information come across as a fast-acting weight loss remedy or a quick fix for a health issue?

This week, you will discover how nutrition is more than just restrictive diets or supplements. It is the scientific study of food and how food nourishes the body and influences health. In this first week, you will consider integrity in science and in academics and apply the scientific method to a mini-investigation from your own life.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Identify factors that influence food choices
  • Explain how your food choices or eating habits may change in the future
  • Demonstrate knowledge of nutritional science
  • Synthesize awareness of one’s dietary choices and how these can result in improved eating habits*

*This Learning Objective is presented in Week 1 and will be completed in Week 5.

Learning Resources

Be sure you do the following as early in the first week as possible:

  • Read the Course Introduction.
  • Read and print out the Syllabus.
  • Save and print the Discussion and Assignment Evaluation Criteria in the Course Information area.
  • Read all of the other information.

Required Readings

Thompson, J., & Manore, M. (2015). Nutrition for life (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Benjamin Cummings.

  • Chapter 1, “Nutrition: Making It Work for You” (pp. 1–37)This introductory chapter provides an overview of basic nutritional concepts including why nutrition is important, scientific elements of nutrients, components of a healthful diet, dietary guidelines, how to read a food label, and trustworthy sources of nutritional information.
  • Chapter 2, “The Human Body: Are We Really What We Eat?” (pp. 38–68)The body is a machine that uses nutrients to create and repair itself. Chapter 2 contains a detailed explanation of the digestive system and how the body breaks down food into usable pieces.

European Food Information Council. (2006). The determinants of food choice. Retrieved from http://www.eufic.org/en/healthy-living/article/the-determinants-of-food-choiceThis review focuses on what influences peoples’ food choices and the barriers to dietary and lifestyle changes. Possible intervention strategies and models for changing food behaviors are discussed.Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. (2018). Food marketing and labeling. Retrieved from http://www.foodsystemprimer.org/food-and-nutrition/food-marketing-and-labeling/index.htmlThis section of the Teaching the Food System curriculum guide focuses on diet and influences on food choices.Pearson. (2016). MyDietAnalysis. Retrieved from https://media.pearsoncmg.com/bc/abp/mydietanalysis/ You will use this resource for your Final Project.

The Walden University Writing Center provides access to writing guidelines, APA style, and summarizes the changes to the 6th edition. Use this resource as a reference to formatting your assignments.Walden University. (2015f). Writing Center: Undergraduate writing: Overview. Retrieved from http://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/undergraduateWalden University. (2015e). Writing Center: Scholarly writing: Overview. Retrieved from http://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/scholarlyWalden University. (2015a). Writing Center: APA style overview. Retrieved from http://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/APAWalden University. (2015b). Writing Center: Citations: Overview. Retrieved from http://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/APA/citationsWalden University. (2015d). Writing Center: Reference list: Overview. Retrieved from http://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/APA/referencesDocument: How to Access the MyDietAnalysis Tool (Word document)Document: Study Notes: Academic Integrity (Word document)This document will help answer questions you may have about Walden University’s policies on academic integrity.

Optional Resources

APA Style. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.apastyle.org/Benos, D. J., Fabres, J., Farmer, J., Gutierrez, J. P., Hennessy, K., Kosek, D., … Wang, K. (2005). Ethics and scientific publication. Advances in Physiology Education, 29(2), 59–74. Retrieved from http://advan.physiology.org/content/29/2/59.full.pdf+htmlCicutto, L. (2008). Plagiarism: Avoiding the peril in scientific writing. CHEST, 133(2), 579–581. Retrieved from http://journal.publications.chestnet.org/article.aspx?articleid=1085699Harvard School of Public Health. (n.d.-d). What should I eat? The Nutrition Source. Retrieved from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/Researchers at Harvard outline tips for healthy eating through their Healthy Eating Plate initiative. This site includes information on healthy body weight, choosing drinks, staying active, recipes, and answers to nutrition questions.Purdue Online Writing Lab. (2016). Retrieved from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/United States Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/The United States Department of Agriculture provides information on healthy eating based on the MyPlate model presented on this site. Consumers can design personalized menu plans, look up the nutrition values of foods, see guidelines for different age groups, and follow the USDA on Twitter.Walden University. (2015h). Writing Center: Walden templates: Overview. Retrieved from http://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/templates

Discussion: Making Sense of Nutrition

Have you ever noticed how the food choices you make on a day-to-day basis affect so much more than just your weight? Food impacts your mental health, physical health, mood, stamina, and energy level, to name just a few. For example, choosing a meal high in carbohydrates and low in protein has a very different impact on all of those things than a meal balanced with good lipids, good carbohydrate sources, and lean protein. Understanding why you may choose one food over another goes a long way toward making better choices. Shifting habit and food preference away from those foods that do not serve your body and mind well toward those foods that do is an important step toward maintaining your health for a long time to come.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Review this week’s Learning Resources.
  • Think about the role food plays in your life.
  • Reflect on factors that may influence your food choices (e.g., cultural, economic, biological, etc.).
  • Think back to a moment of “new learning” you experienced this week. What were you reading or thinking about in that moment? Will your food choices or eating habits change as a result of this information?

By Day 3

Post a brief description of the role that food plays in your life. Describe at least two factors that might influence your food choices and explain why. Finally, describe a moment of “new learning” you experienced this week. Be specific in your description of the topic or content you learned that was new information to you and provide an explanation of how you may integrate this “new learning” into your life. Explain how your food choices or eating habits may change as a result of this information.

Be sure to support your ideas by connecting them to the week’s Learning Resources, or something you have read, heard, seen, or experienced. Use at least two scientific APA-formatted references for full credit.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.

By Day 5

Respond to at least two of your colleagues’ postings in one or more of the following ways:

  • At least one response must be on the topic in which you did not initially post.
  • Ask a probing question.
  • Share an insight from having read your colleague’s posting.
  • Offer and support an opinion.
  • Validate an idea with your own experience.
  • Make a suggestion.
  • Expand on your colleague’s posting.

Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note what you have learned and/or any insights you have gained as a result of the comments your colleagues made.

Submission and Grading Information

Grading Criteria

To access your rubric:Week 1 Discussion Rubric

Post by Day 3 and Respond by Day 5

To participate in this Discussion:Week 1 Discussion


This 20-question, multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank quiz will assess how well you can apply the information in this week’s assigned readings.

About the quiz:

  • The quiz has a 2-hour time limit.
  • You may take the quiz as many times as you need in order to achieve a passing score.
  • If you encounter technical difficulties during the quiz or if you have questions about how a quiz works in your online classroom, contact the Student Support Team for more information. (The team’s contact information is in the Student Support area.)

By Day 7

Complete this week’s quiz.

Submission and Grading Information

Submit Your Quiz by Day 7

To submit your Quiz:Week 1 Quiz

Week in Review

This week, you identified factors that influence your food choices and explained how those choices or eating habits may change in the future.

Next week, you will examine the building blocks of nutrition, including how food is labeled and how to identify its nutrient content.

Looking Ahead

Final Project Overview: Analyze Your Diet With MyDietAnalysis

For your Final Project, due in Week 5, you will use the MyDietAnalysis program. The program will analyze your nutritional intake and exercise patterns. From this analysis, you will make recommendations for changes in your eating habits and determine how you can implement them into your life. This project will give you the opportunity to apply your coursework to your own life and participate in the science of nutrition.

Your Final Project has been broken up into several milestones to better help you manage your time. The Final Project Milestones correspond to the steps listed below. Meeting these milestones will help you complete the project gradually over the next 4 weeks. While you will not receive a grade for your work until Week 3, it is highly recommended that you complete each Final Project Milestone as designated in the timeline below, so that you have ample time in Week 5 to complete and review your paper before submission.

Final Project Steps

Step 1: Record everything you eat and drink for 3 days in a row.

  • Record all the foods and beverages you consume over the course of 3 days. The best 3 days to choose are 2 weekdays and a weekend day, although it is your decision as to which days contain the most “normal” food consumption for you. Do not alter your normal eating pattern.
  • In a lab notebook or food diary, record the amount of food and beverages consumed, including water. Do not record any mineral or vitamin supplements. Do record protein supplements.
  • Be sure to describe each food completely. This includes brand names, ingredients in a recipe, etc. For homemade items, be sure to record portions of all the components in your food, because you will input them separately if no comparable meal can be found in MyDietAnalysis.
  • Record any exercise you perform.
  • Make note of how you feel physically and emotionally after you eat a specific food or meal. Great insight can be gained by closely observing how your body reacts to foods.

Step 2: Organize your recorded information.

  • Type each day’s food and beverages into the menu form: breakfast, snack, lunch, etc. Include everything from your food diary or lab notebook and record them separated by day.
  • Label each item on your menu with the code or codes that indicate why you chose to eat that food or drink that beverage.
APersonal preference (I like it.)
BHabit or tradition (It’s familiar; I always eat it.)
CSocial pressure (It was offered; I couldn’t refuse.)
DAvailability (I was hungry and it was nearby.)
EConvenience (I was too rushed to prepare anything else.)
FEconomy (It was a food I could afford.)
GHealth value (I think it is healthy for me to eat.)
IOther (explain)

Step 3: Enter your organized diet information into the MyDietAnalysis program.

  • Enter the foods you ate into the MyDietAnalysis program.
  • Be sure to create a new profile to reflect your recorded information. The program will ask you questions about yourself—be honest! It is important to capture your true self for MyDietAnalysis to be accurate and representative of your needs.
  • After you have created your profile, click on the DIET TRACKER tab at the top of the program.
  • Enter your foods as accurately as possible. Do this for each new day and save changes when finished.
  • Next, click on the ACTIVITY TRACKER and record any additional exercise you may have completed above and beyond your profile’s activity level. (For example, if you are sedentary and you walk the dog, realize that this activity is included in the sedentary profile. However, if you run for 10 minutes this should be added as additional exercise.)
  • Finally, click on the REPORTS tab.
  • Download the Actual Intakes vs. Recommended Intakes and the Activity Summary reports as PDF documents. This information will be included in your final report.

Steps 1–3 will be due by Day 7 of Week 3.

Step 4: Analyze your diet in a formal report.

Include the following information:

  1. List any vitamins and minerals that averaged less than 100% of the RDA.
  2. For each vitamin or mineral that averaged less than 100% of the RDA, suggest two foods that would increase the amount of that nutrient in your diet.
    • Why did you pick those foods? Are they realistic to YOUR diet?
    • Suggest ways you would incorporate them directly into your diet.
  3. How many grams of fiber did you consume per day?
    • What is the recommended intake per day?
    • If you ate less than the recommended daily intake, how could you realistically increase your fiber?
    • If you ate more than the recommendation, what are the foods in your diet that are contributing to this total?
    • Please be sure to describe the differences between soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
  4. How many different fruits, vegetables, and grains did you consume daily?
    • Could your diet benefit from more diversity? Why?
    • What are some of the reasons fruits and vegetables are hard to include in your diet? Is it because of past memories of eating them? Taste? If you love fruits and vegetables, can you offer an idea why others may not?
    • What is it about fruits and vegetables that make them so nutritious? Discuss three major components of these foods and why they are beneficial.
  5. What have you learned about your eating habits? Pay attention to the codes you assigned to your foods.
  6. Provide your overall observations of your diet. Summarize your codes and reflect on what is your major driving force when it comes to food.
  7. Describe any changes that you have made or plan to make as a result of this exercise. Provide a detailed answer to receive full credit. Answers such as “I plan to eat more fruits and vegetables” without a clear plan will not be awarded full points.

Your Final Project is due by Day 7 of Week 5.

Directions for formatting your Final Project report:

  • Keep all data in one file (unless different formats do not allow them to be together in one file).
  • Cite at least three APA-formatted scientific references. You do not need to reference your values from MyDietAnalysis. (In other words, if you consumed 5000mg of sodium, you don’t need to reference that.)
  • Be sure to complete the assignment in complete essay form. (Do not write the question and then the answer—use full paragraphs.) The 4- to 6-page requirement does not include your charts and motivation codes.
  • Use double spacing, 12-point Times New Roman, and APA format. Page count is 4–6 pages. A template for this paper can be found at the Walden University Writing Center located in the Optional Resources for this week. Click on “General Templates” and then “APA Course Paper Template With Advice (6th ed.)” under “Course Paper.” This template will help you format your Final Project paper correctly.


Week 2: Complete Steps 1 and 2.
Week 3: Complete Step 3 and submit Actual Intakes vs. Recommended Intakes and the Activity Summary reports from MyDietAnalysis by Day 7 of Week 3.
Week 4: Complete Step 4.
Week 5: Submit Final Project by Day 7 of Week 5.

Questions about this Assignment? Post them in the Contact the Instructor area. That way, everyone in the class will see, and benefit from, the Instructor’s response.

Your Final Project is due by Week 5, Day 7. Starting in Week 2, each week has a Final Project Milestone that corresponds to one of the sections of your Final Project, which will help you complete the project gradually over the next 4 weeks. It is highly recommended that you complete each Final Project Milestone in the designated week so that you have ample time in Week 5 to complete and review your paper before submission.

There is nothing to submit this week. To stay on track, however, you should begin planning when you are going to record 3 days of typical eating. You should also review the MyDietAnalysis program to understand how it works.

Next Week

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