The Benefits Of Food Logging
For years Personal Trainers here at On Form Fitness have been asking clients to log their nutrition. Either using food logging apps or by using a written diary, whilst both have proven great tools for personal trainers, there have been a few problems. Food logging can be very time consuming and because clients who are wanting to gain or lose fat are calorie counting, sometimes it can encourage clients to make bad food choices.
What is food logging?
Here at the On Form Fitness Academy we ask clients to start logging when they are wanting to lose or gain weight. We are tracking their calories and looking for unhealthy habits, such as drinking too much alcohol. As we are not nutritionists we cannot write up a food plan for clients, but we can help them via modifying a food diary they write for us.
How do we do it?
So whether it’s an online or a face to face client, we assess clients goals and see if its necessary for them to do a food diary. If we believe it is, we then ask the client to fill out a diary for a week and then send it back to us. From here we can make slight change recommendations to their diary. Usually clients will lose weight just from doing the diary, even though we’ve asked them not to change anything, they are acknowledging what they are eating now, rather than simply consuming.
So..What’s the problem?
Recent research shows that the actual calories content of what you’re eating is often significantly higher or lower than what you’re logging. The FDA [Food and Drug Administration] permits inaccuracies of up to 20%. Many people will choose foods lower in calories, but less nutritious than foods higher in calories that have more nutrients. For example, some people may choose a 100-calorie pack of cookies containing no nutrients over a quarter cup of walnuts that are 180 calories but packed with nutrients.
What’s the solution?
Here at The On Form Fitness Academy, we are now exploring tools such as You Ate, which is an app that helps users stay mindful of what they actually eat. They take a quick photo of their meal and simply mark it as “on-path” or “off-path.” You Ate shows what was eaten on a photographic timeline so clients can make mindful decisions going forward. They can add notes and details to see why they made that meal choice and how it made them feel. In addition to You Ate there are also apps like Meal Logger, which is another free, photo-based tracking tool. By taking photos of their food clients become self-aware of their habits through pictures is an easy way to help improve their self-efficacy and make them feel like they have a positive, active role in their behaviour change. This will help us Personal Trainers focus on what the clients are eating rather than the numbers in the foods.
Clearly, the approach to food journaling is dependent on the goals and needs of each individual client. As Personal Trainers, it’s important to determine which approach to journaling is going to provide the most meaning to our clients and bring about the greatest amount of positive behaviour change.