Why your Dietitian really needs you to fill in that food diary

by Anne Myers-Wright RD/APD

Posted on Jun 5, 01:11 PM in and . No comments.

They are a pain, yeah I know, right, but your Dietitian may give you a food diary to complete between visits. This is very likely if you are starting a special diet such as an elimination diet for IBS or food intolerance testing but you could be asked to complete one of these for many other reasons. We don’t just give these as instruments of torture… honestly! There is a reason behind asking you to complete these and a very good reason to ask you to. ..please, oh please….fill them out as best as you can. They don’t have to be perfect, just give it your best shot.

Why we would very much like you to fill these in:

  1. A more accurate food record – most people do forget what they eat over a week. I have actually met many people who can’t recall what they had for their evening meal a few nights before. It’s also really easy to forget those little things that you might grab to eat whilst on the run. Dietitians will ask you for a “snap shot” of your diet and for some people that will be enough. For others, however, we may need more. Keeping a record helps us get a more accurate picture of what’s going on in your diet, so we can help you the best we can. It’s just about helping us use the best tools for our job. You don’t want us to use a hammer to crack nuts; you want us to use the nut cracker.
  1. Finding the cause of your problem – if you are following an elimination diet, we need to see exactly what may be causing any symptoms or, if the case may be, why your elimination diet may appear not be working. We need to look at your food and symptoms, a bit of detective work, to find your trigger foods and can’t do that on guess work. Symptoms may appear immediately or up to 72 hours after eating a trigger food. We have been trained to identify your triggers by looking at a food and symptom record. If your elimination diet appears to not be working, we also need to see exactly what you have been eating to be able to advise. It’s absolutely crucial that you complete your record for us to be able to help.
  1. We can see patterns in your eating – no, we aren’t shaking a finger at your food choices; we are trying to get a handle on how food fits into your life. That’s why we also need you to be honest. Just fill it out.
  1. We do work on science and calculations- it may seem as though Dietitians just “chat about food, and I guess we do, but we actually do advise you based on science. It’s just that we try to make it a lot more user-friendly by putting it all into every day food recommendations. Your Dietitian is actually scanning your diary and calculating energy, macronutrients, vitamins and minerals in their heads to determine if you are meeting all of your nutritional requirements. Once again, much more accurate with a more robust food record.
  1. It’s actually quite good for you to see your own eating patterns in black and white- I have had so many people comment on how much they can see themselves when they fill in a food diary. It’s a tool for you too.

Sure , not every Dietitian likes food diaries and not every Dietitian will ask you to complete these but if they do, please know that we haven’t asked just because. We really, really need you to fill them out to help us to help you. If you are having trouble with your food diary/record, just ask.

Tags: Fodmaps, Food Records. Allergy And Intolerance, Ibs, Triggers

About the author

Anne Myers-Wright

Anne Myers-Wright RD/APD

Anne is a Health Professions Council (HPC) registered dietitian (RD), an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD- Australia), a fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA), a member of the British Dietetic Association, The Nutrition Society and of The Dietetics Association of Australia.


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