Experience is the best teacher. Words by Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman philosopher and statesman, are as truthful today as two thousand years ago. Theory without experience is just half-hearted. It applies also for courses of healthy nutrition.
And this “imperfection” is the reason why we have created ZOF (Zone of Optimal Functioning) interactive on-line game for preparation of menus while “playing”. Thanks to that you can quickly, easily and via attractive method master the theory gained in our courses.
Who will profit the most out of ZOF and why?
In one sentence – it is great for anybody, who is interested in healthy nutrition and who is looking for ways how to quickly and easily create menus for various situations, including detailed assessment.
Typical users of ZOF
- People with health problems and diseases of civilization – using our ZOF application you will learn to create all-day menus that will help you decrease blood pressure, decrease manifestations of diabetes, lose weight, get rid of inflammations, stop thinning of bones…
- Parents and kids – you will learn to create menus during all year so your kids have enough vitamins and other nutrients.
- Athletes on all levels – you will learn to work with nutrition at 100%, because in ZOF, there is a feature for consumption of energy during trainings.
- ZOF is also powerful tool in hands of nutritional professionals – advisors, trainers, doctors, cooks, and others.
Tip: Are you afraid that ZOF is not for you, because you don’t know how to cook? Get rid of these worries – tens of sample recipes of all categories are part of the game: for vegetarians, but also with meat, for adults and kids, for athletes, seniors, pregnant women.
How can you get access to ZOF?
You can get to ZOF via study of our courses, where you will learn to work with specific menus according to specific assignments (there are tens of them). In each of them, there is different variant according to type of course (vegetarianism, nutrition for kids, sport nutrition and so on).
Bonus for graduates of our courses – ZOF interactive game is open for you after finishing the course.
You get all this with ZOF:
Let´s look at the work with the game and what it is able to assess
Definition of input parameters for creation of menu
Each person has different genetics and quality of life, s\o it is logical that nutrition shall meet specific requirements of his or her individuality. When we want to accommodate requirements of each individual, we need to know input parameters that influence health the most via quality of nutrition and are measurable at the same time. We can range here sex, age, body weight, value of basal metabolism and approximate value of energy expenditure.
This information together with number of portions per day we want to prepare and specification of assignment serves as foundation for training of creation of menu in our game.
When entering the game, there is definition in the form of specific requirements regarding quality of menu, selection of sex, number of foods per day, energy expenditure in the form of working metabolism and sport activity. All these parameters directly influence process of creation of menu that we use for reaching balance (you will find basic information in this article).
List of foods
If we want to create menu that fulfills as wide spectrum of requirements regarding taste, nutrients or other aspects influencing metabolic processes (rules of ZOF) as possible, we need to have selection of foods at disposal we can work with.
Nowadays, there are more than 3,000 foods in ZOF and we gradually add more.
One of the most important rules regarding nutrition is requirement of variegation in selection of foods. That is why there is constantly growing spectrum of commonly used foods in the game; foods that are available in our conditions.
A complete list of ZOF foods
Our philosophy is to teach students of our courses to create menus from natural, it means chemically non-treated foods that didn’t go through technological processes, or just through those that are necessary and have minimum effect on quality of foods. Food supplements we work with during courses are also part of the list.
Just for study reasons we included also selected foods from “junk food” category (it means foods that are considered unsuitable and unhealthy), so it is possible to simulate creation of “unhealthy” menu and assess its characteristics.
Each item on the list contains also spectrum of all characteristics and nutritional values, so the selection of foods is as simple as possible and corresponds to pursued goal.
If you meet any food for the first time and you don’t know if it is suitable for usage, there is its description with basic information about its origin and health effects and also including tips for usage in the kitchen.
Preparation of diet system
Before starting creation of individual recipes it is suitable to decide if main courses (breakfast, lunch, dinner) will have one or two courses. In reality, it is usual to include desserts into main courses, or they can include soup – the game offers these possibilities.
For better arrangement is pays off to note down the name of a recipe you are creating.
Selection of foods
When selecting specific food for your recipe, you can set its specific amount. However, not everybody clearly knows volume corresponding to specific weight, so within each choice of weight there is also approximate conversion into units used in the kitchen – e.g. number of teaspoons or spoons, or cups in case of bigger volume.
Culinary treatment of foods
It is possible to treat each food put into recipe as we would do it in reality. There is wide range of treatments available – besides mechanic manipulation (grinding, mixing, grating) there are various forms of heat-treatment (blanching, stewing, grilling, baking, roasting, baking, drying, boiling, preparation in pressure cooker), or food can be also soaked, fermented of sprouted.
Each of such treatment changes some values and characteristics (content of nutrients, energy, glycemic value, thermic effect, impact on acid-base balance and so on) that are typical for that; always in different range.
If we want to assess quality of diet from holistic point of view, we shall not miss out all these changes due to preparation of foods in the kitchen. We assess these changes of each food and recipe separately, we also count them in all-day menu.
Assessment of created menu
Proteins are essential structural component of our body (for more information see article about proteins). Their amount in diet is usually related to body weight (in average 1 – 1.5 grams / 1 kg of body weight). In case of lack of them, catabolic processes in body prevail, which always negatively influences our health. On the contrary, excess of proteins is hardly digestible and uselessly stresses metabolism as a whole.
We assess amount of proteins of each food and recipe separately and we also monitor total daily intake of proteins. In case of athletes, we need take different amount of proteins before and after training into account. Ratio between plant and animal sources of proteins is also relevant and influences especially quality of proteins.
Fats are sources of slow energy and are part of many structures in cells. They are essential and are ranked between the most important nutrients in diet (for more information see article about fats).
To determine their amount we need to firstly define, if we create high-carb menu (it means that total amount of carbohydrates during the day prevails over proteins and fats) or low-carb menu (= high-fat), where fats serve as main source of energy. In both cases, metabolism behaves differently and each regime has different rules. Generally it applies that excess of fats in diet can be a cause of overweight (1 gram of fats contains twice as much energy as 1 gram of proteins or carbohydrates) so it is worth it to monitor their total amount in diet. For health reasons it is suitable to assess ratio between individual groups of fats: saturated and unsaturated (moreover between omega-3 and omega-6).
In the game, we assess amount of fats of each food and recipe separately, we also monitor their total daily intake and ratio of individual groups of fats.
Carbohydrates are source of quick energy (for more information see article about carbohydrates). Their amount in diet decides functioning of energy metabolism – if there is enough carbohydrates, they are source of instantly utilizable energy. This diet regime is called high-carb. If there is lack of carbohydrates, organism uses fatty acids (fats) as source of energy.
In case of carbohydrates we need to distinguish:
Simple forms have usually higher values of glycemic index.
Excess of carbohydrates increases values of glycemic load.
While working with ZOF game we monitor all these parameters. In case of reduction programs based on high-carb regime it is suitable to decrease amount of carbohydrates in evening portions, because excess of energy from carbohydrates that are not utilized for energy expenditure is stored in fat reserves thanks to insulin.
Fiber is very important for digestion, so it makes sense to monitor its content in diet (for more information see article about fiber).
Recommended daily amount of fiber for adults is approximately 30-35 grams. Majority of people has no idea about specific amount of foods that they should eat to reach this recommended value (and it is also average parameter and most people should take higher amount of fiber).
In reality, two situations related to fiber intake occur:
- Considerable deficit. In Western part of civilization average intake of fiber is 10 – 20 grams per day.
- Considerable excess. Excess of fiber is harmful in relation to useless stress of digestive tract, because most types of fiber are indigestible for humans and complicate absorption of some important nutrients (minerals). It applies typically or some forms of vegetarian diet. In such situations fiber behaves as antinutritional factor in diet.
We assess amount of fiber for each food and recipe separately and we also monitor its daily intake.
Minerals are essential for human health (for more information see article about minerals). When creating menu providing of their sufficient amount is a real challenge. It is also important to monitor ratios of some minerals. In many situations, we need to learn to eliminate effect of antinutrients that significantly decrease utilizability of minerals from diet and cause lack of them in our body.
For rational diet concept it makes sense to focus on monitoring of content of some elements, usually:
Calcium and magnesium
Content and ratio of these elements decide appropriate functioning of cardio-vascular system, nervous system and influence muscular coordination (calcium increases tension, on the contrary magnesium releases). So it is worth it to monitor not just amount based on recommended daily doses (that significantly differ in case of athletes, pregnant and breast-feeding women, and kids…), but also their ratio, which shall be 2.5:1 in case of adults.
We assess amount of calcium and magnesium for each food and recipe separately and we also monitor their total daily intake and mutual ratio.
- Potassium and sodium
Both elements decide water metabolism in body. Potassium retains water inside cells, on the contrary sodium in extracellular area. If sodium noticeably prevails (usually due to high intake of salt), there is a risk of high blood pressure or overload of kidney and lymphatic system (excess of sodium in diet participates in swelling occurrence, usually of lower extremities). Lack or excess of potassium is dangerous in relation to heart function.
In diet, we need to monitor not just total amount of both elements, but also their ratio. It differs in case of population doing and not doing sports – athletes under load need higher portion of sodium than potassium in diet.
We assess amount of potassium and sodium of each food and recipe separately and we also monitor their total daily intake and mutual ratio.
There is significant deficiency of this mineral in many areas of the world, because its content in foods is very inconstant (it depends on amount of selenium in soil). The most frequently, lack of selenium weakens immune system, because selenium is part of structure of antioxidant enzyme glutathione-peroxidase.
We assess amount of selenium of each food and recipe separately and we also monitor its total daily intake.
Men suffer from lack of zinc more than women (it is important factor for prostate functioning). Its sufficient intake decides function of immune system (zinc is part of structure of antioxidant enzyme superoxide-dismutase).
We assess amount of zinc of each food and recipe separately and we also monitor its total daily intake.
Iodine is essential for appropriate functioning of thyroid gland. Only few foods are source of it, so we have to be able to think when creating diet concept. In case of lack of iodine thyroid gland slows its function, which influences also quality of metabolic processes. In case of excess of iodine thyroid gland accelerates its activity. Under certain conditions both situations can lead to thyroid gland disorders (hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism), which significantly influences health.
We assess amount of iodine of each food and recipe separately and we also monitor its total daily intake.
Iron participates in oxygen saturation of blood. Lack of it leads to anemia, which means lower performance in case of athletes. In case of women, lack of iron can cause menstrual cycle disorders.
We assess amount of iron of each food and recipe separately and we also monitor its total daily intake.
Salt (NaCl) is a source of important sodium. According to its origin it can be also source of other minerals and trace elements. It is a carrier of salty taste, which significantly influences our relationship to food consumption. It also carries the strongest strengthening (yang) energy. Lack of salt leads to sodium deficit in diet, which leads to higher tiredness. On the contrary, excess of salt causes water retention in body and causes overload of kidney, lymphatic system, high blood pressure occurrence (hypertension) and swelling. In most countries recommended daily amount of salt for adults is 5 grams. However, this amount is disputatious, because real need of consumption of salt (sodium) is decided by metabolic profile of a person, temperature of environment (and level of sweating, because significant amount of sodium is taken away from body by sweating), body weight or range of physical activity. So there can be three times higher need of salt in case of athletes.
We assess amount of salt of each food and recipe separately and we also monitor its total daily intake.
For health, vitamins are as important as minerals – they are indispensable for life (for more information see article about vitamins). To provide sufficient amount of soluble and insoluble forms is a key.
We assess amount of vitamins of each food and recipe separately and we also monitor their total daily intake.
Cholesterol is very important substance that is necessary for creation of hormones or D vitamin. Organism is creating majority of amount needed itself, quite small amount is provided by foods. For many years, people were persuaded that due to health reasons (relation to cardio-vascular diseases) it is necessary to reduce intake of cholesterol from diet as much as possible. The fact is that health problems related to metabolism of cholesterol are caused especially by oxidative stress (simply excess of free radicals and lack of antioxidants), excess of saturated fats and total intake of energy. When monitoring total amount of daily intake of cholesterol it is necessary to take into account many factors that influence its metabolism. Today´s recommended daily amount 300 mg doesn’t have to correspond to real need of each person. Some population groups suffer from cholesterol insufficiency, it relates usually to vegans.
We assess amount of cholesterol of each food and recipe separately and we monitor its total daily intake.
Purines are substances that can be found in many foods. They are natural part of human organism. In case of excess of purines and insufficient production of uricase enzyme they can oxidize into uric acid. When this acid is not changed into soluble substance, it cannot be excreted by kidney and it is deposited in the form of crystals in joints and gout disease occurs. People suffering from gout or inclining to this disease shall monitor content of purines in diet.
We assess amount of purines of each food and recipe separately and we monitor its total daily intake.
Glycemic value of foods
Glycemic value of foods determines their ability to influence level of blood sugar after their consumption (postprandial glycemia). It is one of very important indicators of quality of foods (you can find more information in this article).
It makes sense to make diet regimes also on principles of glycemic values of foods, because these parameters influence distribution of energy in body, speed of metabolic processes and in long-term horizon, they decide insulin resistance and diabetes.
We assess values of glycemic index and load of each food and recipe separately and we also count them within all-day menu.
Processing of each food stresses digestive tract differently. We can assess that, although not exactly. It makes sense especially in situations when we want to have total stress of our digestive tract (for more information see this article) under control. This characteristic influences total level of filling (with glycemic values and quality of energies).
We assess values of digestibility for each foods and recipe separately, we also count it for all-day menu. Total volume of a portion also influences level of digestibility and the application counts it, as well.
Thermic effect of diet
Most foods are able to call out feeling of heat or cold after their consumption (you will find more information in this article). With this characteristic we work especially in situations, when we want to cool down by nutrition in warm environment, or warm up in cool environment. It also influences our health – in case of cold hands and feet syndrome or chronic cold-sensitiveness appropriate conception is able to be part of solution of these problems.
We assess thermic effect values for each food and recipe separately, we also count them for all-day menu.
Effect of diet on acid-base balance
Diet quality directly influences acid-base processes running in organism. Although this issue is quite complex, in simplified concept we can assess if foods influence these processes in base-forming or acid-forming direction (you can find basic information in this article about acid-base balance).
Knowledge of this characteristic and ability to adjust diet based on these rules helps us influence basic processes running on the level of cell metabolism. It is one of elemental ways how to affect reaching and keeping balance in body.
Prevalence of acid-forming foods can support development of inflammations. Change of diet can significantly support solution of such situation.
We assess values of acid-base characteristics of each food and recipe separately, we also count them in all-day menu.
Assessment of diet quality based on energy tendencies comes from specific perception of reality. It has foundation in history of Asian cultures, where terms yin and yang were defined (for more information see article about energy tendencies).
With appropriate understanding of their meaning we are able to compose diet so we approach metabolic balance, or we can move metabolism behavior in desired direction (e.g. accelerate or decelerate, release of strengthen).
We asses parameters of energy tendencies for each food and recipe separately, we also count them in all-day menu.
Foods that we eat contain certain amount of energy. Each activity that we do (mental and physical) consumes energy. Energy balance means ratio between intake and expenditure of energy (for more information se article about energy balance).
When creating diet regime it doesn’t make sense to count each calorie we take, but it is suitable to have them under control, if total energy balance is positive or negative. These values are significant not just for maintaining of appropriate body weight (including reduction diets), but they also influence energy state of organism (tiredness is typical for negative energy balance).
We assess values of energy balance for each menu.
Ratio of macronutrients
When assessing quality of any diet regime we need to monitor ratios of essential macronutrients. This indicator can be assessed by representation of individual nutrients in grams or converted into amount of energy. Both methods make sense.
We assess weight ratios for each food and recipe separately, energy ratios also for all-day menu.
Antinutrients strongly affect quality of metabolic processes and our health (for more information see article about antinutrients). It is not possible to monitor all of them, we commonly assess fiber, phytates and oxalates whose amount in foods we know the best.
We assess amount of antinutrients for each food and recipe separately, we also count their total daily intake.
System of study in our courses is based on creation of menus. We are particular about connection of theory with practice and work with teaching game is the best possibility we can use within online systems. Each created menu can be exported into pdf file and it is always part of study materials. So within courses we train creation of menus not just for common situations of daily life (nutrition of kids, pregnant and breast-feeding women, athletes, seniors, managers, reduction programs and so on), but also in relation to health problems (digestive problems, inflammations, cardio-vascular problems, thinning of bones, immune system disorders and so on) or situations, when we need to lead metabolism in desired direction for any reason (usually accelerate it or slow it down).
Fears that students will not have enough creative ideas for creation of specific recipes in menus are groundless. List of recipes with description of preparation and photography is part of each course and can be used as patterns and for inspiration for creation of each task. So study in our courses becomes really complex.
See our courses