My second assignment for my second year of nutrition requires me to keep a food diary. Sounds too easy, right? Copy down breakfast, lunch, dinner and Bob’s your uncle.
For this exercise, we need to record every single element of each meal and put this information through a food calculator to analyse the macronutrient (protein, fat and carbohydrate) and micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) content consumed each day. Then map this against the government’s RNI for micronutrients and do a naturopathic analysis of what could be improved.
It’s fascinating stuff. And very eye opening.
I’ve been recording everything I eat and drink since Monday and it’s verified a lot of what I already know about the way I eat and my intentions for my nutrition. I eat a lot of good fats (almonds, avocado, meat), lots of carbohydrates, in the form of fruit and vegetables and a decent amount of protein. I don’t snack, so I like that satiated feeling I get after eating a meal full of good fats, proteins and lots of carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables.
When it comes to micronutrients, it’s a little bit addicting to see how eating certain foods can push up your daily vitamin and mineral intake. Kale and avocados, are a great example of this. I have them most mornings, in my smoothie, so by 8am, I’m well on my way to hitting the majority of the B vitamin (bar B12) requirement for the day.
My omega-3 intake is not high enough – the perfect excuse to eat more smoked salmon!
I can see how easy it is to become obsessed with this information. Equally, it’s really good for people who may be concerned that they’re not getting enough of the right micronutrients to spend a few days inputting their meals into one of these analysis programmes. I can see how good this could be for vegetarians and vegans, especially. It would’ve been very useful for me in my vegetarian days, when I know my diet was really poor. Think lots of cheese, wraps, bread and chocolate and very little veg. Oops.
Here’s what yesterday’s food intake looked like in terms of micronutrient intake, starting with vitamins, then minerals and then amino acids.
Doing this exercise on myself is really interesting and it will be even more interesting once I’ve finished my training and I’m out in the ‘real world’.
For some clients, having access to all of this information could be very overwhelming and others, they might benefit from seeing a deeper analysis of their food intake.
It’s all very well having this data, but it’s what you do with it that matters. Based on a day’s worth of data, I can see that I need to work on my Vitamin D intake and look at including different plant based sources of calcium. And one day out of seven is just a slice of the whole picture. Once I have a full week’s worth of data, one of the requirements of my assignment is to do a full analysis of the week to identify any trends and potential insufficiencies. Should be fascinating stuff.
Do you keep a food diary or use a food tracking like DailyPlate or MyFitnessPal? Why do you use them?