I'm only 24 hours into my mission to eat exactly according to the federal government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and I can already tell it's going to be a hard week.
There are just so many ways that preparing my own healthy meals is more difficult than ordering in Seamless for the umpteenth time in a week. It's hard to work up the energy to buy produce at the dinky bodega after a 10-hour workday and an hour of exercising, it's hard to chop onions without crying, it's hard to wash eight pots and pans at 11 p.m. when all I want to do is watch the Kennishes squabble about the drama program at Carlton on the new episode of "Switched at Birth."
Above all, it's hard to plan my daily meals so that they meet the Dietary Guidelines. This past Sunday, I spent an hour working on the USDA's SuperTracker app carefully tweaking serving sizes and adding extra glasses of milk to meals so that my diets on Monday and Tuesday matched the Guidelines. I managed to put together a set of food to eat Monday that met all the portion sizes in the rubric. (You can see how by clicking the slideshow below. It involves way more dairy and whole grains, and way less pork and whiskey, than I eat on a typical Monday.) But despite all my careful planning, and the fact that all the little brightly-colored bars indicating food groups were at or over the limit, I still missed the daily guidelines for calories, oils and, especially, sodium.
I came pretty close on oils and calories -- I overshot the former by 2 teaspoons and undershot the latter by 315. (How those two facts coincided is beyond me.) But on sodium, I was way off. I apparently ate 4993 milligrams of the stuff throughout what felt to me like a very low-salt day. That's more than twice the 2300 milligrams that the USDA recommends. So I'll have to redouble my efforts on that front going forward.
All that said, though, there is a silver lining to this sturm-und-drang. I didn't find it hard to eat most of the food. I pretty much enjoyed everything. (Probably because of all that salt.) And I only felt really hungry once, after going to the gym but before I got home and cooked. That bodes well for the rest of the adventure.
Click through the slideshow to see what I ate in my first 24 hours of my MyPlate experiment:
Follow me on Twitter for incremental updates about the experiment all day long, and be sure to check back on HuffPost Healthy Living throughout the week for more blog posts.