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Health Articles

Why is a Food Diary So Important?

By Coach Joe


As Coaches, the Daily Food Diary is the one of the most powerful tools we have in order to help you reach your goals as quickly and efficiently as possible. Why is this? Simply reading the numbers on the scale doesn't give us the full story of what's going on inside your body. We can take into account your body fat and water percentage numbers, muscle mass, metabolic age, and visceral fat stats, however, these numbers only give us a quick snapshot in time that will most likely change by the end of the day, if you would weigh later on. To be able to interpret these numbers, the Food Diary is the key to helping us understand those fluctuations in data to help you continue losing weight consistently. 

Every week your Coach has an opportunity to teach you how certain foods and beverages affect your weekly results. In the absence of a diary, we're simply making educated guesses as to what needs adjusted. Without filling out the diary, you will not remember small off-program foods you might have eaten, your portion sizes, or ounces of water or beverages you consume. We won't be able to help you learn what foods caused a shift, such as a spike in your body water percentage or other unexpected numbers on the scale. 

Here are a few examples of some common food issues I've noticed that caused either a stall or a weight gain, and how the Food Diary played a role in helping figure out some of the reasons why:

EXAMPLE 1: A client was eating 4 cups of cabbage for their vegetable intake every day and stalled in her progress. Although cabbage is listed as an approved vegetable, it seems that too many leafy greens, including spinach, tend to create some stalls in progress. They can also cause excess gas and bloating. I advised her to eat more fibrous, bulky vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli, and her weight has decreased each week since. Since she was recording her portions in her diary, we were able to make some adjustments and see that progress resume.

EXAMPLE 2: A client ate ham for dinner a few nights in a row before her weigh-in. Her diary was perfect, however, her weight went up a half pound and she gained 4 inches overall on her body for the week. She commented that the ham seemed very salty - ham is naturally one of the saltiest protein selections, not to mention any additional sodium used in the cooking process. Going forward, she'll limit the ham, especially the day before weighing, which will help avoid water retention. Ham is also a fatty protein, which takes longer to digest and purge from the system. By writing down the type of protein and the portion size, your Coach can help you determine what you can change for the next week to continue seeing results.

EXAMPLE 3:  A client was not losing weight for several weeks but was adamant that she was following the program. She was also not filling out a food diary, and was quite picky with her vegetables. I had to ask her what she was eating every day, and how much. I found out she really only liked red bell peppers, and was eating 4 cups of them each day. I let her know that red bell peppers contain about 10 carbs per cup and advised her that, going forward, she could eat 1 cup of red peppers per day and add in 3 cups of zucchini instead (which she liked, and is also much lower in carbs). She began losing at a consistent rate each week afterwards of about 2 to 2.5 pounds to reach her goal.

There are so many variables in weight loss - the foods and beverages we eat and drink, hormone fluctuations, stress levels, sleep quantity and quality, and our activity levels. The Food Diary is the key to learning what affects your progress and what works, or does not work, for your own personal weight loss. By using a food diary consistently, you'll also be self-monitoring, and you will learn more about mindful eating, proper portion control, and getting in all the right foods when you take the time to write everything down each day. You'll also be able to see how stress and other daily events factor in when you record any cravings or off-program foods you eat. Tracking the amount of sleep you get in, any physical activity, and even how frequently you're using the restroom can also really help your Coach help you make adjustments with your food intake.

Your Coach is your lifeline to success! ITG offers free coaching, which gives you the accountability you need to stay on track to your goals. Dieting is not easy, but your Coach is there to help you make the best decisions and give you advice when you might need to mix things up a bit to continue to see progress each week. For more information about free coaching from ITG for life, get in touch!


Joseph Packo is a Certified ITG Coach and Operations Director for ITG Diet in Saint Petersburg, Florida.


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