Do you really know how much you eat? Why you should keep a food diary

I recently started a 5 week online course through Futurelearn.com.  It is about Nutrition and Wellness and is conducted through the University of Aberdeen.  Now I realise 3 hours each week for 5 weeks will not make me an expert.  However, I’ve always been interested in health and well-being and when I saw this course I thought ‘Why Not?’.

Week 1 has already shown me some ‘home truths’ that I’m sure we all can identify with.

One of the main questions that has resonated with me was – ‘did I actually know exactly what I eat daily and how much I consume?’

The first part of lesson one talked about how our eating patterns have changed from the ‘Stone Age’ to the ‘Obese Age’.

Obesity is continuing to rise in the western world and in Australia, statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, show that

almost 2 in 3 (or 63%) of adults and 1 in 4 (25%) of children are clinically obese.  That is 10% more than in 1995.” 

The statistics are higher in regional areas.

Obesity is the second highest contributor to burden of disease – even worse than smoking!

I find the figure for children very disturbing and am horrified when I see young children drinking fizzy drinks from their bottle instead of milk.  This is a form of child abuse in my eyes.

Now, I’ve heard that sometimes there have been reports that children have been diagnosed as obese when they are clearly not.  However, if you look around there are children who are well over their recommended weight range.

be a positive and healthy role model

Be a positive & healthy role model for your children & grandchildrenClick To Tweet

How can you take a stand against obesity

Educate yourself

There is so much information today about healthy living, what a well balanced diet is and exercise that I find it hard to understand that we have an obesity problem.  Educating ourselves about the health dangers of being overweight and finding ways to lose excess kilos will be a good start.

Know your BMI

Your BMI is your Body Mass Index.  It is ONLY A GUIDE but it does give you an indication of whether you are in a healthy weight range for your height.  I went to the Doctor last week for a check up and she actually calculated my BMI then. I’m actually on the lower side of the recommended range so I need to make sure I don’t lose weight, which can be just as bad as being overweight.

How to calculate your BMI

Basically, your BMI= weight (kg) divided by your height squared (m)

This link will calculate it for you:  http://www.nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/Healthyweightcalculator.aspx

TEE & TEI

Total Energy  requirements vary from person to person.  Your Total Energy Expenditure (TEE) should equal your Energy Intake (TEI) . That is, to maintain your weight you need to know how much energy you use each day and compare it to the number of calories you consume.

ENERGY INTAKE=ENERGY EXPENDITURE should be equal to maintain weightClick To Tweet

BMA  is your Basal Metabolic Rate which is the amount of energy you would expend over 24 hours if you DID NOTHING.

PAL is your Physical Activity Level – your daily activity level including work and leisure time.

Again, this is ONLY A GUIDE, however, do you know how many calories you need to consume each day to MAINTAIN your current weight?  If you are overweight you need to reduce the calorie intake.

This link will calculate our BMA: http://www.globalrph.com/schofield_equation_bmr.htm

Food diary

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One of the exercises we need to undertake in the course for the full five weeks is to record what we eat and drink each day – with the portion size.  A portion guide is provided so we can record as accurately as possible what we are eating.

A well balanced diet suggests we should be eating from 5 food groups to maintain good health and vitality.  Grains, Vegetables, Dairy, Meat, Fish & Poultry and Fruit.

https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-guide-healthy-eating

Why not keep a food diary for a weekand then review it, you will be surprised! Be honest though, you need to document everything you eat or drink, otherwise you are only kidding yourself.

TO HELP YOU GET STARTED, DOWNLOAD

MY FREE PRINTABLE FOOD DIARY- click here

AND

FOOD PORTION GUIDE  This food portion guide is a great poster I found through the Australian Healthy Food Guide.

If you prefer an electronic way to keep track here are some apps you might like to try:

MyFitnessPal

LoseIt!

MyNetDiary

MyPlate

 

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17 thoughts on “Do you really know how much you eat? Why you should keep a food diary

    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      Exactly Jodie. When you see it all written down it can be a shock but it also shows where you can improve.

      Reply
  1. Molly Stevens

    I know this is absolutely essential to bring awareness of one’s intake. There are studies that show food diaries help people lose weight just by the awareness factor alone. It is so easy to eat mindlessly in a land of plenty. I have used the phone app ‘LoseIt’ to help me keep a food diary. It is free and easy to use. I’ve put on a few pounds, so it’s time for me to use my diary again. Thank you for the reminder Sue.

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      I’ve been keeping a food diary as I do my Nutrition course and it is sometimes a little scary when I read back what I have or haven’t eaten over the week. As long as we strive to eat healthy most of the time I think that is the main thing.

      Reply
  2. Leanne

    My diet is pretty balanced and healthy – but I am susceptible to those sneaky snacks and I love an occasional takeaway (I am a woman of particularly simple culinary tastes!) I think the secret for me is to try to keep those treats as “treats” and stop making them regular visitors!

    Reply
  3. Linda Hobden

    My husband joined Slimming World here in the UK & he keeps a food diary which he finds invaluable … since he joined I have rejigged our whole eating regime as a family to help him and he says I’m a lot better cook nowadays – it’s because I am cooking from scratch & actually enjoying sourcing new fruit, veg, meats and especially herbs & spices! 😊

    Reply
  4. Silly Mummy

    Very interesting. I actually wouldn’t do this because I am a recovered anorexic – I very deliberately don’t monitor my calorie intake, what I eat, my weight or my BMI. However, that is a specific circumstance that overrides this being a good idea in my case – in most situations, I do think this is very sensible advice. & I should add that, due to my history, I spent a lot of time being monitored by dieticians and I did keep food diaries, and also had all the information about basal metabolic rate and energy expenditure, etc. So, while I don’t track any of it these days, I do have the awareness about these things, and I think it is good for people to have that awareness. I also have very stable weight – I suspect that, if you have the knowledge about all this stuff, over time you reach a point where you intuitively balance intake with output fairly well, regardless of whether you keep track.

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      My sister had anorexia at 17 and is now 55. There was not much information about it back then so it was all trial and error. We don’t really need to monitor everything as long as we lead a healthy balanced lifestyle in all areas we should be fine. Take care!

      Reply
  5. Lee Gaitan

    This is so true for many of us. We say we eat well or we want to lose weight, but we often resist being honest about what goes in our mouths and how often! It’s like until it’s in black and white in front of us it doesn’t count or we can pretend it away. I believe it’s the same mechanism as in the old days with checkbooks–if we didn’t record the check then we feel like we didn’t really spend the money! 😉 We end up paying the price for both of these denial habits.

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      Yes I’ve had a bit of a surprise over the last week keeping my food diary. I do think about what I’m about to eat since I’ve been keeping the diary. Oh checkbooks seem so long ago now don’t they – no wonder some people can’t budget.

      Reply
  6. Jennifer

    I’m off and on for tracking my food. When I do, I use Sparkpeople because it has an app for my phone and also lets me track barcodes, etc. I read somewhere that this generation of children, because of the obesity epidemic, are the first generation that will not outlive their parents.

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      It can be a shock when you see it written down. I also find I think twice about my food choices as I know I have to include it in my diary.

      Reply
  7. Terri Webster Schrandt

    Sue, this is such great info for people of any age! With Weight Watchers, I have an app that tracks my food intake (into smart points). It really does make one accountable! I have to chuckle at the BMI calculator. The Imperial weight came up in stones, which I had to look up. Who knew 1 stone = 14 pounds, LOL? Learn something new every day!

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      Oh we had stones, pounds and ounces when I was at school and then went metric when I was in Grade 5. I think that some kind of tracking really helps as we take the time to think about what we are eating. I’m surprised at what I eat sometimes when I look at my food diary and it also shows where I can improve.

      Reply
  8. Sandy Sandmeyer

    Keeping track of what I was eating and how many calories I was consuming made a huge difference for me in my weight loss journey. I highly recommend keeping track and have been for months now. Great post, Sue!

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      Good for you Sandy and you will see results. I think keeping a diary makes you more conscious of what you are about to eat because you know you will have to record it!

      Reply

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