How to analyse your food diary.
The dreaded food diary is always recommended by fitness professionals but seldom kept up for any length of time. One of the reasons for this is that the diary does not usually lie! It is a cold hard look at what you are eating. I have lost count at the number of times that a client has said to me after the first week of tracking the intake of their food that they had a really bad week. They assure me that they never usually eat that badly. Normally this is not the case it just means that they have never recorded their food intake before.
Food Diary Rules:
Stick to these rules and you will get the most out of your diary.
1. The most important rule is not to use the diary as a stick to beat yourself over the head with. If you do this you will quickly give up. It is to be used to give you important information that you can then use to make improvements in your nutritional intake. If you are trying to lose weight then it will show you when you are comfort eating. If you are trying to build muscle it will show you wether you are getting enough protein for your muscles. It can also show you wether you are eating regular meals.
2. If you are going through a bad patch in your eating habits the temptation will be very strong to forget to fill out the diary. You miss one or two days and then say "I can't remember what I had two days ago so I can't fill out the diary".The best course of action in this case is to work back from your most recent meal and to go back in time as far as you can remember. Once you start filling it in at all you will feel much better about the process.
3. Depending on your goals and how much detail you need you might need to record the Kcals for each meal as well. This makes it much harder so do not do this until you have at least 3 weeks filled out and are in the habit.
4. Research has shown that people don't write down everything that they eat in the diary and that they miscalculate the amount. This has been proven by having people wearing cameras to record meal time. As the old saying goes you are fooling no one but yourself. Try and be honest and you can then get great benefit from the diary otherwise it will be difficult to make progress.
5. Write down the times that you eat.
Now it is time to look at a sample diary so that I can give you some idea of what to look for.
• You can see form the diary that the meal times that the person is eating at are erratic. I would strongly advise this person to try and eat at roughly the same times every day. If they decide to eat outside of those times then it is more than likely comfort eating. They can then look at the reasons for comfort eating and try and tackle them.
• They are eating a lot of junk foods as well so they need to cut down on those. I would suggest eating smaller portions of those foods rather than having to face giving them up totally.
• You can see that there is little fruit been eaten so that is something to improve upon as well. aiming to get a least one portion of fruit daily would be a good realistic goal.
Sometimes it is best for the person to make the suggested changes themselves as they know what is realsitic for them. It is important not to make drastci changes or they will not be maintainable in the long term.