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How Accurate Is Your Food Log? 6 Common Mistakes

sad food

As a diet coach, I use software that links with the LoseIt! app to monitor my clients’ diets. The app allows me to see everyone’s food log, comment, encourage and make suggestions like “eat this, not that”. However, I have noticed a few common mistakes so I thought I’d share them publicly to help you if you are either new to logging food or seem to be in a rut.

PFIT TIP: After you read this blog, take my 7-day food log challenge. It’s simply committing to 7 days of ACCURATE logging. 

6 Food Log Boo-Boos

inaccurate loseit entry1. Inaccurate Info

One mistake I see often are food entries with missing information. This happens when you choose a food that is missing vital nutrient information (like fat, carbs and protein). The easiest way to fix this is to always look for the green “verified” checkmark by the food item.

The next way to ensure your food entries are accurate is to click on the food, look at all the nutritional data and look for “n/a”. Missing info happens when someone enters a food in the database but does not list all the nutrients. Skipping info leaves an “n/a” under that section. Avoid foods with n/a, and you’ll get more accurate information, which is super important for those of you tracking macro-nutrients (protein, carbs & fat).

2. Similar entry, but not correct entry

Another common trend I see are food entries that are clearly the closest thing someone could choose to what they actually ate, but is not really what they ate at all. For instance, one of my clients had a salad with pear and gorgonzola cheese. She looked up pear and “gorgonola cheese” and clicked on the lowest calorie entry. First red flag; the misspelled word was my first clue it was likely not accurate info.

1 servingThe second red flag was the fact it said “1 serving”. What is 1 serving? Is it a side salad, small bowl or a large salad plate? The last red flag was the fact it was the lowest amount of calories of other misspelled entries. Her entry was only 150 calories out of the only 2 entries. Once I looked up “salad pear gorgonzola cheese”, using the correct spelling, a page full of entries popped up ranging from 169 calories to 480 calories! That’s a BIG difference.

3. Guestimating portions

It’s amazing how many people just enter “half a cup of rice” but never pull out a measuring cup. This is a crucial step to getting results, as well as a pheonminal nutrition education. One of my favorite things about having people log food is how much they learn in the process. But, you can’t learn anything playing the guessing game.

I’m amazed how many people admit they don’t actually weigh and measure food but still expect results. Can you imagine if we did that with our shopping? What if we looked at the groceries on the conveyer belt and just gave the cashier the amount we guessed the groceries would cost. Listen, I’ve never been on the Price Is Right for a reason. I would be wrong every time.

PFIT TIP: Practice learning portions by guessing ounces/measurements before you weigh and measure to see if you can get more accurate the more you log.

LoseIt Pie Graph4. Not paying attention to macros.

LoseIt has a fantastic section under “My Day” that shows you a pie graph of where your calories are coming from; protein, fats and carbs. Reducing calories will reduce your waistline, but your macro nutrients will determine how you look and feel at your new skinnier weight. You should get a balance of carbs, fats and proteins, but most people are getting the majority of their calories from carbohydrates and not getting near enough protein. The pie graph lets you see your eating patterns at a glance.

PFIT TIP: You can click on “Breakfast” or “Dinner” and view a pie graph of that individual meal. I prefer dinner to be lower in carbs so this is an easy way to check that in a jiffy.

5. Not consistent

This is probably the most common problem I see. People will log for 4-5 days in a row, only to go MIA on me, especially over the weekend. Or, they will miss meals or snacks here and there.

LoseIt only works if you give it accurate information. You can’t really know what you need to change, and no one can really make helpful suggestions, unless you have accurate information. While logging does make you more aware of what you are putting in your body, logging accurate information consistently is the only way you can really guarantee you are truly doing everything you need to do.

How can you decide if you can or cannot afford something if you never looked at what was coming in and out of your bank account? You can’t. You actually might be able to afford something once you look at where you may be wasting money (and could save money) and the same goes for diet. You may be wasting calories on something you don’t even really love, but you’ll never know until you log consistently and let the LoseIt! app teach you more and more about food – and about yourself.

6. Logging after you eat

trying to rememberOftentimes, I will comment, “don’t forget to log” when I see missing data and I will get a response like “Oh, I meant to log it later” or “I’ll do it now”. Logging after we eat normally results in inaccurate information. I’m pretty dang good at logging and I STILL will forget I grabbed 6 cashews unless I log it the second they go into my hand. We just forget things.

We mean well, but those little mistakes can sabotage our results. We forget the olive oil we used to cook with. We forget toppings, dressings and ingredients. Then we get frustrated because we feel like we are doing everything right but not getting the results we deserve, when the truth is we are not doing everything right. We aren’t logging right. Not only that, we don’t know what to fix because we don’t have all the data we need to make the right changes. We have room to improve.

The best way to log is BEFORE it goes in your mouth.

5 Questions To Keep An Accurate Log:

When in doubt, ask the following questions
1. Does the food you’ve chosen have all the macro nutrients listed?
2. Are there many choices to choose from? Often times a misspelled word or different title will pull better data.
3. Are the calories in line with most of the other data or are they way off?
4. Is it measurable? Avoid “1 serving” unless it’s prepackaged or a verified restaurant item. Always choose foods you can measure and compare accurately, preferably in ounces.
5. Is it something I can break down and enter more accurately on my own? As you log, you will begin to recognize what 1 ounce of goat cheese looks like or how 4 ounces of chicken looks on your plate. Not only is it typically more accurate to add each ingredient individually as you see it rather than just choose a random food item someone added to the LoseIt app, it’s great practice to analyze your entries and practice your eyeball-measuring skills.

 

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