Recording and Analysing Food Intake
Before examining an individual’s diet, the nutritionist needs to know what the individual is eating on a daily basis. Methods frequently used to examine when an individual is eating consist of dietary recalls and diet records. Though diet records (people keep a running record of the specific foods and beverages they have consumed, counting the amounts of each and how the food is prepared) are superior to recalls because people often forget what they eat, diet records have limitations as well. The mere act of keeping a diet record makes people change their typical eating habits. Moreover, some people are self-conscious of their food or drink consumption and therefore leave out vital details due to shame. For example, a rugby player who drinks twelve beers on a particular day might only record four of those beers. Another tool some people use is the camera of a phone. They take a photo of their meal and send it to the nutritionist. That said, a picture does not provide comprehensive details regarding how a food was prepared, or the quantities ingested.
Despite the shortcomings of dietary records and recalls, these tools are among the best available for helping the nutritionist assess and individual’s food intake. Some nutritionists can scan dietary records and rapidly locate areas of deficiency. Typically, food intake is analysed through the use of a food analysis programme. They usually require a 24-hour dietary recall, 3-day diet record, or a 7-day diet record. The basic programmes that are free and that allow an individual to track his or her dietary intake can help ensure that the individual stays within a certain macronutrient or calorie range.
- Campbell, Bill I., and Marie A. Spano. NSCA's guide to sport and exercise nutrition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2011.
- Insel, Paul M., R. Elaine Turner, and Don Ross. Nutrition. 3rd ed. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2007.