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Assessing an Actual Client’s Food Journal

This is a client’s actual food log from MyFitnessPal. Want to know how I evaluate it? First read “How to Evaluate the Data from your Online Food Journal”.

Then read my notes below to see how she did.

Foods

Calories

Carbs

Fat

Protein

Cholest

Sodium

Sugars

Fiber

Breakfast

General Mills – Honey Nut Cheerios, 1 cup (28g)

147

29g

2g

3g

0mg

213mg

12g

3g

Starbucks – Double Tall Soy Latte, 12 oz

130

18g

4g

7g

0mg

100mg

14g

1g

Peaches – Raw, 1 large (2-3/4″ dia) (approx 2-1/2 per lb)

61

15g

0g

1g

0mg

0mg

13g

2g

Milk – Nonfat (fat free or skim), 0.5 cup

43

6g

0g

4g

2mg

64mg

0g

0g

Lunch

Generic – Teriyaki Grilled Chicken Thighs, 1 thigh

224

2g

11g

17g

95mg

88mg

2g

0g

Rice – Brown, long-grain, cooked, 0.3 cup

65

13g

1g

2g

0mg

3mg

0g

1g

Edamame – Steamed Edamame In Pod W/Salt, 1/2 cup

100

11g

4g

13g

0mg

5mg

5g

4g

Dinner

Generic – Salmon Fillet Baked – 1 Fillet, 6 ounce

240

0g

16g

24g

60mg

68mg

0g

0g

Spinach – Raw, 1 cup

7

1g

0g

1g

0mg

24mg

0g

1g

Cuties – Tangerines, 84 g (2 cuties)

40

9g

0g

1g

0mg

0mg

7g

2g

Cheese – Blue, bleu, 0.5 cubic inch

30

0g

2g

2g

6mg

119mg

0g

0g

Mushrooms – Raw, 0.5 cup pieces

8

1g

0g

1g

0mg

1mg

1g

0g

Kirkland Signature (Costco) – Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, 1 Tablespoon

10

2g

0g

0g

0mg

0mg

2g

0g

Nuts – Walnuts, english, 0.5 oz (14 halves)

93

2g

9g

2g

0mg

0mg

0g

1g

Snacks

Bananas – Raw, 1 large (8″ to 8-7/8″ long)

121

31g

0g

1g

0mg

1mg

17g

4g

Trader Joe’s – Chocolate Covered Mini Pretzels (Dark Chocolate) Corrected, 8 pieces (40 g)

190

25g

10g

2g

0mg

150mg

11g

2g

TOTAL:

1,509

165g

59g

81g

163mg

836mg

84g

21g

As I dietitian, when I am evaluating a client’s food journal, these are some of the factor’s I look at:

Calories. She was right at her goal of 1500 calories.

Carbs. Goal for her is 188 g. She had 165 g. A bit short. Were they “healthy, high fiber” carbs? For the most part but 25 grams were from dark chocolate pretzels.

Protein. 13 grams short. She did have good quality protein provided by the salmon, chicken and milk however. I would be more concerned about falling short on the protein goal if her protein sources were vegetarian or if she consistently didn’t reach her goal.

Fat. She got some healthy fats from the walnuts and salmon. 12 g of unhealthy fat were from chocolate pretzels and blue cheese and had she chosen chicken breast instead of the thighs she could have eliminated some saturated fat.  But she gets credit for using balsamic vinegar on her salad. No oil! So she saved some calories and fat there. And blue cheese is actually a good addition to a salad as long as it is in small quantity. A small amount adds a lot of flavor and decadence without that many additional calories. I’m hoping she measured it out though. Her log indicates half a one inch cube. It would be easy to eat so much more and then be underestimating calorie intake. So be sure to measure.

Sodium. 2400 mg or less is the goal. Her diary indicates she ate less than 900 mg. I would guess more however because of the teriyaki chicken. I looked on other sites and the sodium content for 1 thigh ran higher up to 1100 mg for this serving site. Sometimes the entries on online journals are incorrect, especially if it was a “member submitted” and not verified.

Cholesterol. Goal is less than 300 mg per day. Hers was 163 mg. Good.

Sugars. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to 100 calories daily for women. She had 84 g TOTAL  sugars.  Her biggest sugar contributors were milk in the latte and fruit. These weren’t added sugars.The chocolate covered pretzels added some unnecessary sugar/carbs.

Fiber. Goal is 35 grams per day. She got 21 grams. This is a bit surprising because she did eat whole grains, veggies and fruits. Apparently not enough. She can improve this by adding more fiber-rich veggies to her salad. Maybe broccoli, carrots, celery, a few peas, raw cauliflower.

Did she get at least 2 servings of dairy? She had 1.5 servings from the soy milk in the latte  and some milk on her cereal. The contribution from calcium is one of the major reasons it is important to eat dairy foods. She did have soy milk which sometimes does not contain calcium unless it is fortified with calcium. Since all soy milk is not fortified,  read the nutrition information on labels carefully.

Was there a lot of “volume”? Yes. Peaches, edamame, spinach, tangerines, mushrooms and banana. These are filling and lower calorie and more nutritious than other choices might be. If you can picture the food on the plate , it was quite a bit. The salmon was also a good choice. She was able to have a big portion for a mere 240 calories.  6 ounces of beef would be at least double that in calories which means that if she had wanted to eat beef and stay within her calorie goal she could have only had a small 3 ounce portion.

Get 3 servings of whole grains? She had about 2 servings. A serving is 1 cup cold cereal or ½ c rice.She had 1 c Cheerios and 1/3 cup rice. (I wonder if she measured. That is a very small serving. My guess is that she actually had more)

Did she eat at least 2 cups of vegetables? Yes. Edamame (can count as a starchy veggies but still a veggie), spinach, mushrooms.

Did she eat at least 1.5 cups fruit? Yes.Banana, peach, tangerines.

So overall, she did well. There are a few areas to improve on that were brought to her attention because we took the time to assess her daily intake. Now you try it with your own journal entries usingHow to Evaluate the Data from your Online Food Journal“. 

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Modifying the Paleo Diet

I received a great comment from Dan regarding my blog on the Paleo Diet Review. Dan wrote: “Interesting that this came up. I started what I called a ‘modified’ Paleo diet on July 1. It’s not truly Paleo but for me it’s ‘no starches, no milk products, no processed foods or refined sugars’ – ever. I have never really dieted before but this works for me, and I get to each all the fruits, vegetables and lean meat that I want. I have to say though, I miss my cheese quesadillas.”

My response to Dan:

It is always a good idea to minimize processed foods, white flour products and refined sugars. Getting rid of those foods will naturally decrease a person’s caloric intake by eliminating unnecessary (and typically additional) empty calories. By eliminating those foods you are decreasing the amount of calories you were eating which results in a weight loss. Do you know it takes only 200 additional calories a day for 18 days above your body’s caloric needs to pack away one pound? That‘s a 20 pound weight gain a year.  And the reverse is true, if you decrease 500 calories a day for 7 days that theoretically results in a one pound weight loss.

Eliminate additional calories and junk foods but don’t eliminate healthy whole grains or dairy foods. Unless you are lactose intolerant there is no need to avoid milk products. (Just be sure to choose low-fat products). Dairy foods are an important source of protein, calcium, Vitamins A and D amongst other nutrients.

You are on the right track by focusing on lean meats, fruits and vegetables. To get the benefits from those healthy foods there are serving recommendations. See my article on how to evaluate the data from an online food journal to review your diet just like a dietitian would. This will help you to see if you are eating optimally for good health. http://www.myactivenutrition.com/blog/2012/07/how-to-evaluate-the-data-from-your-online-food-journal/

I recommend using MyFitnessPal online food and exercise journal. Studies have found that self-monitoring predicts success in long-term maintenance of weight loss. Self-monitoring is essential to your success!! MyFitnessPal will help you track the two main math variables in weight loss. Calories in and calories out.  And it will enable you to evaluate the nutritive value of your diet.

No need for you to give up your favorite cheese quesadillas. Make them with corn (a whole grain) or whole grain tortillas instead of flour tortillas. Incorporating whole grain foods into your diet may help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. A University of Minnesota meta-analysis reviewed and compiled scores of studies on whole grains and health, to show how whole-grain intake is protective against cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. In fact, the benefits of whole grains most documented by repeated studies include: stroke risk reduced 30-36%; type 2 diabetes risk reduced 21-30%; heart disease risk reduced 25-28%; and better weight maintenance.

So get these benefits by choosing corn or whole grain tortillas. The healthiest corn tortillas are made with whole corn kernels and include the natural nutrient-rich bran, germ and endosperm. Look for corn tortillas that contain only stone ground whole corn, water and lime. Whole grain tortillas are not made with refined flour. A whole grain tortilla is full of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Most of the benefits come from bran, germ and endosperm; the parts of the grain that are reduced or lost during the milling and processing necessary to produce white flour tortillas. The first ingredient on the label should say WHOLE.

There are many delicious low fat cheeses you can use in your quesadilla. I like to use reduced fat SHARP cheddar. Sharp cheese has a bold, rich flavor and you won’t miss the fat. To add flavor and nutrients to your quesadillas you can add cooked chicken, chopped green onions, mushrooms, diced red pepper, green pepper slices, olives, etc. Serve with a side of beans.

Beans make the list of foods highest in antioxidants. Ronald Prior, PhD, a chemist and nutritionist with the USDA’s Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center in Little Rock, Arkansas authored a groundbreaking antioxidant measure study and found that beans were at the top of the charts. One-half cup of red beans has 13,727 antioxidants; red kidney beans have 13,259; pinto beans, 11,864; and black beans, 4,191. Not to mention beans are an excellent source of fiber and protein.

And don’t forget the salsa on that quesadilla. Tomatoes are another excellent source of antioxidants, particularly lycopene. Frequent consumption of tomato products is associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.

So, if the general plan for the Paleo Diet is working for you, keep doing it with a few modifications.

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Paleo Diet Review

The Paleo diet was recently criticized and ranked LAST by US News & World Report’s evaluation of the top 25 diets that was done by twenty two national health experts.

The Paleo diet advocates eating like a caveman from the Paleolithic period. This diet recommends animal protein and fruit and vegetables while eliminating beans, dairy, refined sugar and high glycemic fruits and vegetables.

By eliminating dairy, beans and grains you are missing out on a lot of important nutrients. And if you aren’t eating  lean protein sources, you could get too much saturated fat.

The Paleo diet does not have the carb, protein, fat ratios that nutrition experts recommend. The Paleo diet is about 39% of daily calories coming from fat-most nutrition experts recommend much less than this; 38% of daily calories from protein-more than what is recommended; and 23% of daily calories from carbohydrates-far below the 45 to 65% recommendation.

I personally recommend 50% of daily calories from carbohydrates; 25% from fat and 25% from protein.

I know you are wondering what the highest ranking diets were? DASH, TLC, Mayo Clinic, Mediterranean and Weight Watchers.

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