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Why would you use a food diary

Do you know what you are ingesting over a 24-hour period? Do you understand the side effects of your diet?

By keeping a food diary, you will get the facts right and be able to make the right choices.  Make food choices that suit you according to your age, activity level, digestive system sensitivity, and health status.  You will be able to manage a chronic condition, and much more.  You can even use this food journal to make adjustments to repair damage and restart your cells.

One confirms that consuming the necessary quantity of vitamins, trace elements and minerals is essential to the proper functioning of our systems.

The human body is made of the assembly of eleven systems, each performing an essential role to the maintenance of its organization and its proper functioning. Our body forms a “whole” in which each of its parts is closely related to the others; all work together to maintain its organization, integrity and well-being. Thus, none of them is less or more important than another: they are all vital to the maintenance of life, each of them taking on an essential function.

We call “systems” those parts that perform a vital function and thus contribute to the maintenance of our body. Each system is in turn composed of several organs; an organ being a structure with a well-defined shape and function. For example, the digestive system is composed of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, etc., all of which are different organs that each play a specific role in the nutrition of our body.

The eleven systems that make up the human body are: Tegumentary System, Bone System, Muscle System, Nervous System, Endocrine System, Cardiovascular System, Lymphatic System, Respiratory System, Digestive System, Urinary System, Genital System.  For more details on the systems and their functions here.

To make an assessment of our diet it is essential to analyze our food journal. Regardless of the form; paper, through an application on our phone, online, etc. it is important to understand what the data tells us and what adjustments we will need to make to regain balance as well as correct unwanted side effects.  We are all unique, which means that many personal factors must be taken into account before adhering to one type of diet rather than another; daily or occasional medication, past or future surgical procedures, cancer remission, and so on.

7 raisons to keep a food journal

  1. Become aware of the types of foods you eat; variety, food group, protein, sugars, fat;
  2. Become aware of the amount you eat;
  3. Be aware of how often you eat – frequency;
  4. Become aware of our state of mind when we eat;
  5. The management of our weight to recover a healthy balance;
  6. Identification of foods that do not suit you;
  7. Identification of allergies and / or food intolérances.

Become aware of the foods you eat;

The elements that make up our diet all have an impact on our overall health.

En écrivant un journal alimentaire vous tiendrez graduellement compte de la variété des aliments que vous consommez ne serait-ce que pour une seule raison : Il faut savoir qu’aucun aliment ne contient à lui seul tous les éléments nutritifs nécessaires au bon fonctionnement de l’organisme. Aucun aliment en soi ne soulage à lui seul tous les maux.  D’autant plus qu’il serait bien dommage de manger toujours la même chose.

The one reason you would be by writing a food journal, you will be to gradually take into account the variety of foods you eat: No single food contains all the nutrients required for the body to function properly. No single food in itself relieves all ills.  Especially since it would be a shame to eat the same thing over and over again.

Then, each food group provides a different combination of nutrients, but each food within the same group has interesting nutritional characteristics. For example, oranges are a good source of vitamin C. However, they do not contain as many polyphenols as cranberries or grapes.  On this subject, I would add that in recent years there has been a debate about the importance of eating from each of the food groups; some diets or dietary plans eliminate one or more food groups.

As mentioned in the introduction to this article, our diet must take into account our personal influences such as our state of health and especially our level of activity.  If in a specific case it is suggested to completely eliminate the group of glucoses and the person is an athlete, there is a risk of creating a deficiency, etc.

We must also take into account the percentage of protein, glucose and fat in our diet.  These percentages will be adjusted according to the results you want to obtain; weight loss, gastrointestinal tract disease, chronic inflammation, etc.

It is really by taking note of absolutely everything that we have an accurate picture and that we can remedy behavior that does not suit us.

Become aware of the amount of food  you consume;

Ahhhhh the quantities!  What a dilemma; how to know exactly what is right for us.  I repeat once again that we are unique individuals and that “one size fits all” recipe does not exist.

Too much food on your plates!  Help yourself to two, three servings.  The quantities served in the restaurant are immense!  In some places, there is enough food for 4 people.  The imbalance settles quickly when eating too much (swelling, gas, restless sleep, etc.).  You may have experienced discomfort at a dinner party where you ate too much.

Researchers know that leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells, plays an important role in controlling body weight in humans.  Leptin works by triggering a feeling of satiety in the brain when we have eaten enough and stop eating.

However, in cases of obesity resulting from a high sugar diet or overeating, the body stops responding to leptin signals – it does not feel full and continues to eat, resulting in weight gain and so on.

On the other hand, if you ingest too small quantities, you may suffer important consequences such as deficiencies in vitamins, minerals, trace elements, etc. and also develop eating disorders such as anorexia and its derivatives which can lead to death.  I’m not talking about a fasting here.

You must also continually adjust your quantities and food choices according to your activity level and your body’s fat reserves.

The diagram below demonstrates the portions.  It does not indicate the number of servings.  If in one case you have to take 2 servings of fat for one serving of vegetable, you will have to take this into account.

I particularly like this measurement method because it is perfectly adapted to everyone. At a glance you can see what suits you.

Be aware of how often you eat;

In 2020, and for a long time now, we have had access to prepared and fresh food, 24 hours a day.  Fast food chains and grocery stores offer their products at all hours of the day and night.  This can be very convenient for people working on night shifts, for example, or who are travelling, etc.  However, this does not mean that we should eat at all hours!

Your food journal will allow you to record your meal and snack times and you can quickly analyze this specific data.

The talk of the town is all about intermittent fasting.  Intermittent fasting is a method that alternates between fasting and normal feeding periods. The duration of the fasting phases can be adjusted.  This method allows us to limit our consumption hours and thus give our digestive system a rest time; energy will therefore be available so that other systems can complete their respective tasks in our body.

signs of hunger

According to the website Anorexie et Boulimie Québec: The signs of hunger are the moment when you “gotta eat something”!!

  • Gargled into the stomach;
  • Feeling of emptiness in the stomach;
  • Small cramps;
  • Low energy, difficulty concentrating, irritability and sometimes even panic;

Signs of satiety correspond to the moment when you have to stop eating!

  • Feeling full without being overfilled;
  • Find food to be less tasty;
  • Feel a renewed energy;
  • Feel comfortable, good.

Depending on the foods we choose, the signs of hunger can be delayed or accelerate.  In the 1950s, we discovered that high-fat foods are among those that support us longer, unlike foods with a high carbohydrate content.   I am talking about the ketogenic diet, sometimes considered a controversial diet.  However, the feeling of satiety is faster and longer with the application of this method.

Our family and social food heritage

In the expression; it takes a whole village to raise a child I also understand that the child in question inherits the eating habits of the whole village!  Who didn’t discover a new food when eating at a friend’s house?  Our parents often feed us according to what they have been taught by their parents and so on.  Breaking the eating habits we inherited has been proved to be very difficult.  Fortunately, today people are travelling more and more and they are exposed to new cultures and can integrate this new knowledge into their daily lives. Especially since we are fortunate to have access to these new foods in our local grocery stores.

At the same time, have you ever seen the negative effects of a food change due to social pressure?  A little anecdote here: I was lucky enough to live in Louisiana, where the food is too good and social gathering every weekend!  I gained 20lbs in three months.  I didn’t even know you could deep fry a whole turkey.  It’s so good but so, so much, so too much!  The holiday season and all other celebrations often revolve around a hearty meal.

If we do not break the cycle of inherited eating habits, it could lead to the development of the same chronic diseases as our parents, uncles, grandmothers, and so on, such as type II diabetes, liver disease, etc.

Become aware of our state of mind when we eat;

Emotional balance and nutrition go hand in hand.  Who hasn’t eaten a whole box of chocolate in front of the TV, while emptying a box of tissues to wipe away the tears of a broken heart.  When you keep a food journal, you will also take into account your moods when you eat and be able to identify your feelings associated with food.  If you discover a problem at this level, I encourage you to consult an eating disorders professional.

Managing our weight;

For a number of years now, the medical community has been calling the body fat a Toxic Organ. I invite you to follow this link to go learn further on the subject: here.  In résumé, imagine that for the last 100 years, we have added an organ to our body and it is toxic!  In fact, what I mean is that the body fat stores toxins and prevents them from leaving our bodies in the normal way, i.e. stool, urine, air.  Toxins are trapped in our body and contribute to its intoxication.

You understand that managing our weight is not just a matter of pants or dress size, but it is of paramount importance to the proper functioning of our metabolism.

For women in the phase of hormonal change, menopause, weight management or body fat has a direct impact on their symptoms.

Especially since weight management is closely linked to the prevention of diseases such as type II diabetes, osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, etc.

Your food diary will help you in your quest for a healthy weight balance.

Discovery of foods that do not suit you;

The food journal is an excellent tool to identify offenders to our gastrointestinal system balance.  For example, if you constantly have gas, by analyzing your diary you will surely be able to identify the food or combination of foods that causes these gases and correct the situation!

Identification of food allergies and/or food intolerances..

Food allergy is a reaction of the immune system to a protein: it occurs quickly after eating a food, even if taken in very small quantities.

The main symptoms of food allergy: Severe and almost immediate abdominal cramps, excessive sweating, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting.  Believe me, you would know it quickly!

Food intolerance is an abnormal reaction of the body following the ingestion of a food or food additive.

The main symptoms of food intolerance: Abdominal cramps and/or swelling, nausea, diarrhea and sometimes even vomiting.

If you suspect food intolerance, your diary is the first suggested tool to identify it because you will have all the details and can proceed with an elimination protocol.  Following this protocol you will be able to adjust your diet

Essential Items To Be Recorded in Your Food Diary

Here are the essential items to record in your food diary;

  1. Wake Up Time;
  2. Meal times;
  3. List of foods and quantity for each meal;
  4. Liste of drinks and quantity
  5. Times and snack list;
  6. Bedtime
  7. Other comments: stressful situation, travel, etc.

How to analyse your food diary

Well beyond the calorie count, data must first be categorized into food groups: fruits & vegetables, cereal products, dairy products and alternatives, meat/fish & alternatives.

Then, identify the fats, carbohydrates and proteins.  This step may be a little more complicated since a food may contain all three categories.  What we want to know here is above all the percentage of fat, carbohydrates and proteins that make up your diet.  When consuming prepared products, reference should be made to the food labels on the packaging.

The other data will identify the fasting time between the last and first meal / snack, and so on.

Dietary supplements

Following the analysis of your food journal, you may wonder about your deficiencies in vitamins, minerals and trace elements.  Our food should provide us with everything we need to properly feed and operate our systems.  I invite you to know more about this subject by following this link.

For an analysis of your food diary follow this link.

Bon appétit!

Louise Therrien ND

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