For many clients I work with getting their nutrition in order is an important first step for them being successful long-term. This is why we see great benefit in using a visual food diary to initially track their food intake. We find that taking a quick picture before you eat your meal takes away most if not all of the barriers of making it as easy as possible to track their food intake. In this blog we will look at 3 tips for getting started and sticking to tracking your food with a visual food diary.
1. UNDERSTAND WHY YOU ARE USING A VISUAL FOOD DIARY
Firstly we must understand what we are trying to achieve by tracking our food intake with by using a visual food diary. You are looking to get a good indicator over time of portion sizes, food quality and variety in intake. Having correct portion sizes for your goals is the most important factor in making sure you achieve your goals. Next making sure this food covers enough protein, fibre (fruit and vegetables) and and freshness is our next goal. Lastly having a visual log will allow you to see whether you have enough variety in food choices throughout the week.
Having a visual diary is an easy way to simply look and apply the three areas we are trying to cover – Correct Portion Sizes, Good Food Quality and Variety in Intake
2.bEING CONSISTENT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING
Secondly using a visual food diary means there should be no barrier to entry in using this method which will allow you to be consistent. Sometimes using a food tracking method such as My Fitness Pal can be quite tough for clients to use initially. It can take a while to feel comfortable enough in weighing food and looking it up in a database. By having no barrier to using the method it allows you to be consistent over the long-term. Each time you make a small change to your diet you will be able to visually see the effect it has in the food choices you are making.
A great example would be implementing better portion sizes through the week. More vegetables and fruit with enough protein per meal is a great start. By being able to use the visual food diary you can see week to week if you are making this change and sticking to it and being consistent.
3.MAKE CHANGES SLOWLY AND START EASY
Lastly using a visual food diary will allow you to make changes slowly and be able to get the positive reinforcement seeing these changes long-term. Therefore there is great power and positive reinforcement in seeing how small changes can make a big difference. A great and easy start would be making sure you add an extra pieces of vegetable or fruit with each meal you are having. Adding an extra apple to breakfast or an extra bit of spinach to lunch is pretty easy.
To sum things up you will find great benefit in starting to implement a visual food diary into your tracking of your food. This is because of the lack of barriers to entry in starting to do it and also the great visual feedback you get from viewing your food diary in this way. Give it a go and let us know how you go.