One of the biggest challenges I faced (and still do) as a personal trainer was getting my clients to confide in me what they ate. Now don’t get me wrong, my clients would always give me an answer but it wasn’t necessarily the truth.
Were they lying when they told me that their diet was good? Absolutely not. Some of us think that we have a great diet when we actually don’t. It could be the lack of knowledge about how many calories certain foods contain or another common reason I find is that people simply disregard things like mayonnaise, butter, drinks etc because their quantity is so small that they just don’t get counted by the individual. People see these as a ‘freebie’ and not an addition to their caloric intake if you will.
It is these smaller things that can be the difference between a Good diet and a Bad diet! The difference between turning ‘fat burn’ foods into ‘fat gain’ foods!
So what is the best way to identify how much of these ‘little’ things that you’re eating on a daily basis and how many more calories they are adding to your daily intake? A food diary – Ok, ok I know, I too can think of better things to do with my day than write down everything I eat but I’m not asking that this is done permanently. Keep a food diary for a week and you’ll be surprised at how much it will reveal.
The next step is to do some research and find out how many extra calories (and where the calories are coming from) these little foods are adding on a day to day basis. Taking a look at food labels is usually the quickest and easiest way. I think you’ll be surprised!
You mean to say that ‘tuna/chicken salad’ sandwich isn’t as healthy as you initially thought!? How does such a healthy sounding food provide you with over 20 grams of artery blocking fat?? This is the difference our ‘little’ friends can make – in this case, butter and mayo (not the best of fat burn foods).
Now you can see how the little things you might not have considered before can add up. From here, if you feel that your diet could be improved you just need to look at small, gradual changes that you are willing to stick to. Set your own goals and take responsibility for them. Even if the goal initially is something as small as ‘cutting weekly mayonnaise intake in half’ or ‘drinking one less cup of juice a day’.
I’m not asking you to go cold turkey on your favorite foods because I’d fully expect you to tell me where to go. Too right as well! Setting your own goals are more meaningful and easier to manage You’re also far more likely to achieve it! Remember, these small improvements could shave 200-300 calories off of your daily intake! Good news eh?
Even better news is that after keeping your food diary for a week you’ll be much more aware of the things you’re eating (and even the foods you’re putting on TOP of the things you’re eating!). Just by keeping an eye opening food diary for a week you’ll see automatic improvements you can make in your diet without having to keep a food diary anymore.
The best news? By making small improvements to your diet you can make the body adapt to the flavors of your food! For example, five years ago I made an effort to cut out sugar from my tea and cut table salt from all of my meals. I started at three teaspoons of sugar in each cup of tea I had so I set small weekly goals to cut half a teaspoon of sugar from each cup.
The changes in taste were minimal but I was slowly tricking my body into getting used to less and less sugar. I’m now at half a teaspoon of sugar per cup of tea and if I ever go back to 3 teaspoons it feels completely alien to me and tastes horrible. The same for table salt on my food! So how does consuming fewer calories without sacrificing taste sound? Good? Thought so : )
Imagine cutting calories without having to look around for the best diets or fad diets (which I am firmly against)! This is ideal for most people because you just tweak your existing eating habits rather than change it entirely to a diet that you can’t stomach! Again, you’re far more likely to stick to it too.
Hopefully you can now see the benefits that keeping a food diary can give you. Give it a go for a week and see if it helps. If you’re honest with your food diary it can be a real eye opener and help you to see where you can make immediate, manageable changes. All it takes is a week of quickly writing things down. Well worth it!
A week’s work will light up the path to your long-term goal!