Channel 4 is well into series 3 of Secret Eaters – for those of you who haven’t seen it, each episode is pretty much the same as the last:
1. Very overweight families go on the show, with no apparent idea of how they got to the size they are.
2. They are monitored for a week, with PI’s watching and counting every calorie.
3. At the end of the week, the calories they think they have eaten (around 1500) are compared to the calories they have actually eaten (something in the region of 4000).
4. They then proceed to act shocked when shown clips of them demolishing numerous packs of Maryland cookies in the middle of the night.
Admittedly, these generally seem to be quite extreme cases, but the principal of food logging makes sense (for the short term at least!). For the last couple of weeks I’ve been monitoring my food intake using the app ‘My Fitness Pal’. This allows you to enter all the food and drink you’ve consumed, and even allows you to scan the barcodes on packaging to make life much easier!
It’s a great tool to accurately monitor your calories – it lets you input calories burned through exercise too. Even if this isn’t something you need, I’d recommend everyone do it for a day or two just to take a check on what you’re consuming.
The recommended balanced diet is 50% carbohydrates, 20% fat and 30% protein. A food tracking app like this will show you the split, and help your tailor your diet if you find that it’s too heavy in one area (mine was a bit carb happy!). It’s also handy to track your sugars and other vitamin areas in case you are lacking in anything.
I’m always very conscious of the nutritional labels of what I buy at the supermarket, but it’s hard to keep track of food when you’re eating out. You might be surprised at the nutrition of some big brands; we were shocked at the amount of sugars in apparently ‘healthy’ breakfast cereals! America is pushing for labels to show the food data of ‘average’ portion sizes rather than what is recommended (who ever just eats 30g of cereal?!) and I hope that comes into place over here. It’s important to monitor portions as well as what you’re actually eating – often you don’t need as much as you think, and we get into the habit of filling our plates and feeling compelled to finish what’s in front of us.
It’s a handy tool to try, ESPECIALLY if you think you know what you’re consuming every day. Compare it to what you’re actually having and maybe you’ll even come out of it with some positive changes to make.