Why food diaries are important for prescribing diets

To create the healthiest and most effective eating plan specifically for you and your needs, I need to know what you’re eating. The problem with nutrition is there is no perfect diet, everyone has specific needs that need to be met by different means. There are universal principles for healthy diets and diets aimed at fat loss or muscle gain, of course. But beyond that, when it comes to seeing what specific nutritional refinements work for you and what one don’t, you begin to appreciate the valuable experience trial and error can offer.

The most important thing for me (and it should be for you too) when working with clients, is that deficiencies or suboptimal intakes are recognised and addressed immediately so we can begin replenishing the body so it can function at its best with no limitations. That’s the first step in improving your health and reaching your goals.Then we can adjust the macronutrient profile whilst the body is full nourished and operating at full capacity to achieve whatever other goals you may have ie fat loss, muscle gain etc. For this reason, diets often need to be monitored and analysed fairly regularly. Depending on your goals this could be anywhere between every week to every month. Adjustments need to be made during these reviews so the diet can be tweaked until suboptimal intakes are addressed and/or the nutrient composition of your diet reflects your specific goals.

If I were to just give a generic diet that only took into account your current weight, gender, age and training level, which I did all the time as personal trainer, I’m selling myself short by cutting you short of what you can achieve. If I just blindly write out a diet for someone it’s entirely possible to prescribe a diet that doesn’t cater for individual specific requirements which may turn a suboptimal intake into a potentially harmful chronic deficiency, or worse it exacerbate a chronic deficiency. Therefore I see some form of recorded food intake as crucial in doing my job properly. Yes, a balanced diet provides many essential nutrients, but there are well over 30 essential nutrients all of which are required in varying degrees, intakes of which also are required in varying amounts from person to person. I don’t like guesswork, I prefer to be accurate in the nutrition plans I prescribe. The first step is a food diary.

Once I have an accurate picture of your habitual intake I can then decide where to go from there. A 7 day food diary is best but 4 days will enough. I even offer clients the option to text me each night before bed what they’ve eaten that day to save themselves the burden of writing everything down. This method is called a 24hour recall and can be repeated over several days. To get the most out of this and if you really want to improve your health the best you can. I have to get a food diary from you.

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