Losing weight isn’t easy for many, we know. But the use of a food diary can be an essential tool in identifying the worst things you eat. This knowledge will encourage you to eat healthier and be successful in losing weight – and keeping it off.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
The calories consumed versus calories expended certainly plays a key role in weight gain/loss. However, most of us grossly underestimate the number of calories we consume. Therefore, keeping a food diary log can help you get back on track. In fact, medical studies prove how effective food tracking is in achieving long term weight loss. My personal tip is to be consistent, and one of the best ways is to carry your food diary with you or use a calorie counting app on your Smartphone. That way you can be accurate – measuring portions and reading labels, and it really does force you to be honest and record everything you eat. Now you’ll never forget to include that extra condiment!
Not only is food tracking useful for counting the total calories consumed, but keeping a food diary log can help you identify another vital component of nutrition: Macronutrients (Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats).
Some of my clients initially think they are eating healthily because of their portion control. Indeed their calorie consumption may be suitable for their body weight and activity level. However, looking at their food diary reveals they are low on at least one particular macronutrient. This can lead to either insufficient protein, which is essential for growth and repair; not enough healthy fats in the form of omega 3 fatty acids; or a lack of green leafy vegetables.
The importance of healthy sources of saturated fat such as coconut oil is underestimated by people. These fats contain many health giving, heart protecting nutrients. Having your food diary app to hand ensures you never miss a key macronutrient again! It also ensures that you identify the worst foods you eat and work to eradicate them from your diet.
Overconsumption of the worst foods you can eat
Unfortunately, one of biggest downfalls in healthy eating is the overconsumption of unhealthy foods. Sometimes these foods are commonly known as unhealthy and sometimes these foods are wrongly marketed as healthy or believed to be healthy due to mis-information. Therefore, the following should shed some light on the topic and also identify a range of 5 foods that you really shouldn’t consume without tracking them on a food diary (or preferably never eat at all) and my alternatives to a few of the identified foods.
Culprit 1 – Processed Doughnuts
So convenient, so tasty… but is the short term satisfaction that comes from them worth the price paid? As to be expected, those pre-packaged doughnuts will add a ton of calories and unwanted sugar to your diet and they’re not easy to digest.
In fact, these fried round doughy desserts are bad on so many levels, because they are filled with a very high refined sugar content and preservatives. Some doctors classify refined sugars (such as what is found in pre-packaged doughnuts) as a poison. This is because the sugars have been depleted of all their vitamins and minerals. Throw in the increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia and tooth decay that have been linked to the refined sugars and you have quite the unhealthy treat. You will definitely benefit from having a food diary app to hand when considering this sugary food! My tip: Grab some fresh fruit for your sweet fix and record that in your food diary instead, you’ll see it will likely contain considerably less sugar and also provide some useful vitamins!
Culprit 2 – Margarines
To many this will come as a surprise. But the main reasons to avoid most margarines are that they contain trans fats – something that should be avoided like the plague. Not only can little good come from them, but studies have linked trans fats to an increased risk of heart and diabetes.
Trans fats turn the dietary fats into especially hard-to-move fat – on your belly, in your heart and everywhere else that matters. So how can you avoid trans fats? Well, essentially you should check margarines’ ingredients list for the words ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated’. Processed Baked foods, shortenings such as margarine and deep fried food are some of the most common ways in which Trans Fats find their way into our body.
So what do I recommend to use instead of margarine? Butter or coconut oil of course! Yes, you heard right, butter contains high levels of vitamins A, D, E amongst other goodness. Counter-intuitive though it might seem, there’s no actual evidence that natural saturated fat is fattening. Indeed by sating the appetite effectively, it may actually prevent overeating, and that’s also where a calorie counter or food diary can come in to monitor our consumption of such foods.
Yes fat is more calorific, but with a controlled intake – monitored by a calorie counting app we can include a vital food type into our diet, without exceeding our target calorie intake. What’s very certain with regards to healthy saturated fat consumption is that it is a key component of our cell membranes, is essential in the production of certain hormones, and acts as a carrier for essential vitamins and is vital for mineral absorption. Eat this food regularly but inmoderation. Butter is certainly not among the worst foods you eat, it is one of the good guys.
Culprit 3 – Fizzy Drinks.
Ok so this one is a drink. However, fizzy drinks are up there with the worst foods you eat in terms of destroying weight loss goals, and damaging overall health. They provide absolutely no health benefit, and should be avoided completely. Next time you reach for that can of fizzy drink, use your food diary to identify just how much sugar / calories this will contribute to your day’s total. Don’t be surprised that this sugary water will have you exceeding your daily sugar allowance in no time! Furthermore, just like the processed doughnuts, the high refined sugar content contained in the fizzy drinks increases risk of many diseases and can also increase inflammation in the skin. Tip: pick a fresh juice, not a concentrate. This will provide some vitamins. Just ensure you maintain consistency and track the juice intake, as juice is still high in sugar and should not be consumed in large amounts.
Culprit 4 – White Bagels
A bagel may appear a surprise entry, but regular consumers of this food would really benefit from a calorie counter. A regular intake of this innocent looking snack will soon have you identifying far too many carbohydrates and calories come from it.
Wheat flour bagels are dense with refined carbohydrates and low in nutrients. This density means they are highly calorific as well as offering little health benefit. In fact, a typical bagel contains around three times the amount of calories and refined carbohydrates as a slice of white bread! Bagels have a extremely high Glycemic Index, which increases insulin and leads to inflammation. In fact they will generally sap your energy before you know it. This is one food that would be best banished from your diet, but if you cannot resist, at least ensure you calorie counter is on hand to record it!
Culprit 5 – Sugary Cereals
There are numerous cereals that are considered healthy, yet a large number of these have a high sugar content. You’ll definitely want to log this breakfast choice, as sugary cereals are high on the list of worst foods you can eat and contribute a surprising amount to your overall calorie and carbohydrates. Regular use of a food diary / calorie counting app can help you practice portion control with cereals as well as identify the amount of sugars you consume with each one. This should have you thinking about alterative cereals to reduce the amount of calories from sugar you consume in the morning. Or even better, opt for a higher protein breakfast such as eggs, peppers and tomatoes.
Well there you have it, 5 of the worst foods (and drinks) you will have today without a food diary to really keep track of those hidden calories, sugars and trans fats.