Food diary discussion

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Assessment 3: Food Diary
Weighting: 20% of unit grade
Word Count: 1500 word commentary (not including references or charts/diet diary)

The aims of this assessment are to gain experience of recording intake of food and drink, to introduce students to dietary analysis software and composition tables, and to investigate manageable alterations to the ‘average Western diet’. It will also allow students to gain understanding of the therapeutic applications of dietary screening techniques and the effects dietary models have on nutrient status. Students will learn to understand the difficulties in recording and analysing food intake and the challenges of meeting nutrient requirements. All

claims of relationships between nutrient intake and health must be referenced using reliable sources. This will allow students to further develop their confidence in reading and critically appraising primary research as well as government guidelines on nutrient intakes .


Calculate nutrition data using a programme or composition tables and provide a table/chart for each of the following days:

  • Average Western diet day. Consider and calculate the ‘average Western style diet’ using the sample diet provided.

You must calculate the intake of macronutrients and micronutrients for each day; one of your own, the Western and the adjusted Western diet day. Compare nutrient intake to the government recommended adult levels. Nutritional supplements will not be included.

Micronutrients: Vitamins; A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, folate, C, D, E, K, biotin.
Minerals; calcium, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, sodium, zinc
Macronutrients: Protein; animal, plant, total protein (kcalories, grams, % of total caloric intake). Fats: Essential fatty acids (omega 3:6 ratio), saturated fats (grams), trans-fats (grams), total fats (kcalories, grams, % of total caloric intake)
Carbohydrates: total carbohydrates (grams, kcalories, % of total caloric intake), sugars (grams kcalories, % of total caloric intake), fibre (grams), glycaemic load (high or low)

A typical day of your diet. Keep a detailed food diary of your own diet for seven days – provide a copy of your seven day diet diary then choose one typical day to calculate.

Therapeutic naturopathic dietary adjustments to the average Western diet.

Experiment with naturopathic nutrition style changes to the average Western day such as replacing a packet of crisps for a handful of almonds and raisins, or replacing white bread with rye bread. Note your modifications and calculate.


Discuss your findings in regards to your own typical day, a typical Western diet and the changes brought about by some naturopathic dietary adjustments. This is your chance to develop your confidence reading research a little more. You will critically appraise the results of your dietary analysis for these 3 days, prioritising the most noteworthy macro and micronutrient excess/insufficient intakes. You will consider the UK RNI or EU RDA (for Ireland students) guidelines, as well as other relevant research. You will consider the strengths and limitations of the government guidelines. Eg. What does epidemiological or clinical research show? Where there is evidence of conflicting research, why might this be the case? Be concise and efficient with your word count to balance breadth and depth of points. You will not be expected to explore every nutrient but you must discuss any significant factors eg. Total calories, saturated fat which may have an impact on long term health.

If you follow a diet, or create a diet that contradicts government guidelines, what influenced these decisions eg. Dietary models, such as paleo, vegan, macrobiotic approaches and what might you need to consider, both nutritionally and ethically when creating dietary changes? Where you make controversial health claims or considerations, you will be expected to show evidence that you have critically evaluated your perspective based on a fair representation of research to justify your perspective.

You will reflect on the strengths and limitations of using dietary analysis software to identify nutritional quality. Show evidence of consideration of a wider range of factors, such as personal health symptoms, age, gender, weight, alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, recreational or medicinal drug use, cooking methods, soil quality, organic vs. non-organic, anti-nutrients, phytonutrients and water intake.

What factors might affect the results of a nutritional profile of a diet diary, eg. Weighted measurements vs. estimates? If you weighed the measurements for the day you analysed, what might be the pro’s and con’s of asking clients to do this? What factors might influence the practicability? Would there be any client groups for whom this might not be appropriate? What evidence is there for improving the accuracy and compliance for dietary intake/recall amongst clients?

Your own dietary intake log must be comprised of diet alone and exclude supplements, however you may include discussion on supplements when commenting on the limitations of dietary analysis software. .

Sample Day Western Style Diet
Toasted white wheat bagel, 1 tablespoon jam, 1⁄2 tablespoon margarine. Drinks:

250ml tap water. Café bought latte coffee 1.5 cups, 1 sugar.

Snack: 1 medium banana, 35 grams potato crisps. Drinks: 1 teaspoon instant coffee, 150 ml boiled water with 1⁄4 cup full fat milk, 1 sugar

Lunch: White bread sandwich (2 slices of bread), 1⁄2 cup chicken breast, 1⁄4 cup shredded lettuce, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Snack: Mars bar regular size. Drinks: 1 can of cola.

Dinner: Pasta Carbonara, 1 cup cooked spaghetti, 1⁄4 cup cream, 50 grams bacon, 15 grams cheese, 1 egg, 1 clove garlic, 1 teaspoon olive oil, salt/pepper . Drinks: 250ml tap water. 150 ml boiled water, 1⁄4 cup full fat milk, black tea, no sugar. For males: add an extra egg and extra cup of cooked spaghetti to the daily intake.

Snack: 3 wheat crackers, 40 gms cheddar cheese. Drink: one beer 330-355ml (12 fluid ounces). For males: Add another beer to the total.

Some suggested resources for compiling tables
Mosby’s Nutritrac Nutrition Analysis Software
Mateljan, G. (2015). The World’s Healthiest Foods. 2nd Edition.
McCance and Widdowson’s (2014) The Composition of Food: Seventh Summary Edition. Food Standards Agency UK: Royal Society of Chemistry

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