September 8

My post-holiday food diary


My post-holiday food diary…

A couple of weeks ago I returned home from a 10 day family holiday in the South of France.

Aside from the mammoth car journey at the start and finish, it was a fun and fairly active trip.

We took our bikes, and I cycled every day, taking full advantage of the wonderfully smooth pothole-free roads.

It was brilliant.


And of course – being in France – we also ate a fair amount of delicious freshly baked baguette, the odd pain au chocolat, and a fair amount of cheese.

These were accompanied by a daily round of Lindt chocolate. Bought from the well-stocked supermarkets, and passed around each night after dinner.

That was brilliant too.

Upon returning home, having very much enjoyed all that tasty food, I was keen to get back to a way of eating that makes me feel at my best.

That meant:

  • protein in each meal
  • lots of colour throughout the day from vegetables and fruit
  • healthy fats (usually 2-3 small servings daily)
  • some good quality natural carbohydrates
  • slightly smaller portions than what I’d been used to having recently
  • protein or fruit as default snack choices (but still making room for a bit of chocolate too)


Something a bit like this…

mindful eating for weight loss
It doesn’t have to be this nutritious every time, but these are some ideas to help you feel at your best

Tracking nutrition

So I decided to spend a week keeping a food diary. Tracking my calorie and nutrient intake, aiming to stick to those bullet points above.

Just to be clear, counting calories isn’t something you need to do, in order to lose weight or be healthy. You can make fantastic progress without it, and many of my online clients do just that. But it is a very useful tool to have in your toolbox, and I was happy to use it just for this week back home.

For tracking calories and nutrients, I use the ‘my fitness pal’ app. It has a huge database of foods, meaning you can find what you’ve eaten (or plan to eat), and record the portion size. Doing this enables you to see how your day looks in terms of calories, protein, and any other nutrients you may be interested in.

Here’s a screenshot of some nutrition info from the app.

It’s not my favourite thing in the world to do, but it can be incredibly insightful to track your calorie and protein intake for a week or so now and again.

There is a lot you can learn from it in a short space of time. And that can empower you with the tools and knowledge to create and maintain the results you’re looking for.

Food photos

In addition to tracking nutrition, I also decided to keep a visual food diary by taking photos of meals and snacks. For this I used an app called See How You Eat.

Doing this served two purposes:

1) It encouraged me to make the meals and snacks look tasty and colourful, which often meant adding more fruit or veg

2) It was a useful tool for sharing ideas and tracking guidance with my online coaching clients

I posted the photos, nutrition info, and some notes in my Online Coaching client Facebook group each day.

And I decide to share it here too, in the hope you find it interesting, and perhaps take some useful ideas from it.

So without further ado, here are my photos and notes (as they were written in my daily Facebook posts) from the week.

Monday Food Diary

First day back from holiday – a bit low on variety as we didn’t have any fresh food until my other half went shopping after work.

This is what’s in the photos:
1️⃣ Protein porridge with berries and flaxseed for breakfast
(good one to do without fresh food – had oats, protein powder, cacao powder and cinnamon in the cupboard, frozen berries in the freezer)
2️⃣ Two small pieces of wholemeal toast with butter and marmite for a morning snack. (we had bread in the freezer and this was good fuel for a quick 1 hour bike ride)
3️⃣ Protein porridge again for lunch, this time without the flaxseed
4️⃣ Protein bar for afternoon snack
5️⃣ Homemade parsnip crisps before dinner. (forgot to take a photo so screenshotted this one off of Google)

6️⃣ Dinner – a bowl of carrots, broccoli and sauerkraut with apple cider vinegar (we have this every night, it’s nicer than it sounds!). Plus lightly dusted lemon sole from Aldi, with stir fried frozen veg and a bit of spinach, tomato, smoky beetroot and balsamic glaze. Also had some ketchup which I tracked too.

Approx total calories – 2088

I’ve set the goal at 2000 calories as I’ll be pretty active. And I’m pretty sure I was eating more than 2000 calories on average before we went away. So this amount will hopefully feel doable and enjoyable.

If I go over the target a little bit, I’m totally fine with that. It’s definitely still progress, and the bike ride today was a high intensity one. (my Garmin said I burned 800 calories – I would guess it was probably more like 600).

No dessert tonight as very satisfied after dinner and still need to go and unpack!

Protein – 146g

This was helped by a scoop of whey protein powder in each bowl of porridge.The two other big protein sources here  – the protein bar (22g protein) and the fish at dinner.

My protein goal is set at 150g, but anything above 120g I’m happy with.

Tuesday Food Diary

In the photos:

1️⃣ Protein porridge with flaxseed. Today I knocked 5g off each of the protein powder, cacao powder and flaxseed, which brings this meal down by about 70 calories. As I have it every day, that’s a small change that will add up over time (and I didn’t even notice the difference).
2️⃣ Salad with spinach, tomatoes, smoky beetroot, baked tofu, avocado, balsamic glaze. We cooked up a batch of tofu last night, and that was really helpful to add to the salad as a good source of protein.
3️⃣ Aldi 0% fat Greek yogurt, berries, 40g Fuel chocolate protein granola (love that stuff).
4️⃣ Protein bar after gym. This one was less calories than the one I had yesterday. 198 instead of 241, for the same amount of protein – but I didn’t like it as much. Other Fulfil bars are much nicer.
5️⃣ Usual bowl of broccoli, carrots and sauerkraut with apple cider vinegar, plus baked salmon with salt and lemon juice, stir fried frozen Mediterranean veg, and half a tin of black beans. I seasoned the beans and veg with smoky BBQ seasoning, and also drizzled a bit of lemon juice and apple cider vinegar over the top. That was quite nice.

6️⃣ Baked parsnips (shared before dinner) and fresh strawberries for dessert

Calories – approx 1965

I did have a few sips of Iain’s smoothie this morning, so it was probably actually 2000.

Have done a weights session at the gym and 9100 steps.

Currently quite fancying a bit of the low calorie cookie dough ice cream I bought earlier that was on offer in sainsburys… But posting this in our facebook group (and feeling full) is helping me not have any! Will plan that in for tomorrow

Protein – 140g

The main food sources that contributed to this:

Whey protein powder, tofu, Greek yogurt, protein granola (to a less degree – there’s not that much protein in a single serving, but it still added some), protein bar, salmon.


Wednesday Food Diary

In the photos:

1️⃣ Usual protein porridge with berries and flaxseed

2️⃣ Boiled eggs (cooked a batch of 6 and had 2)

3️⃣ Salad with spinach, tomatoes, smoky beetroot, half tin of black beans, baked tofu, little bit of avocado, balsamic glaze. The beans and tofu helped me feel noticeably more full for most of the afternoon.

4️⃣ Had a few berries through the day, and some parsnip crisps before dinner

5️⃣ Chicken and chorizo fajitas – our favourite dinner! 2 x 118 calorie wholemeal wraps, 1 small chicken breast, 15g chorizo (measured this and it was noticeably less than what I’ve been having). Mediterranean veg, plus Greek yogurt, salsa and avocado. Usual bowl of broccoli, carrots and sauerkraut with apple cider vinegar too.

6️⃣ A small amount of low calorie ice cream – 70g / approx 70 calories – very nice

Calories – approx 1906

I didn’t measure everything at dinner – did a best guess on the chicken, avocado, salsa and yogurt.

If I’m honest, feel a bit too full now – have done 12.5k steps today but probably didn’t need quite as much food as I had at lunch and dinner. Slightly smaller portions next time.

Protein – approx 126g

The food sources that helped:

Whey protein, eggs, black beans, tofu, chicken, Greek yogurt.


Thursday Food Diary

A long and fairly active day with an afternoon tea in the middle.

In the photos:

1️⃣ 80g granola with berries and almond milk (pre early morning cycle fuel)

2️⃣ Usual protein porridge after bike ride

3️⃣ Salad before afternoon tea. I ate this because I was a bit hungry, and didn’t want to turn up really hungry and then overeat. Also wanted to get some nutrients in. Had my usual salad but took out the avocado and beans. That meant it was lower in calories, and still high in protein with the tofu.

4️⃣ Afternoon tea

This was a birthday present my mum was given (voucher for two) and I was lucky that she chose me to go with her

It wasn’t huge portions… I left a bit of one of the sweet things as didn’t like it, and half a scone as I got full. Very tricky to guess the calories so I’ve put in a generic ‘afternoon tea’ entry on ‘my fitness pal’. It puts it at 1000 calories, which I’d hope is an overestimation. But it is always quite amazing how these things add up. It was great though – very enjoyable and certainly a ‘worth it’ indulgence.

5️⃣ 50g granola with almond milk and berries. Usually after an afternoon tea I would have had some veg and protein if hungry. (And usually end up not having anything as don’t tend to be hungry). On this day though, I was playing football at 8pm, so had this as a bit of fuel a couple of hours before.

Approx calories – 2574

Lots of carbs and a fair amount of calories, but that’s fine now and again. It provided energy for some fun activity too.

Aiming for a bit less carbs and calories, and a bit more protein and veg tomorrow, will help balance this out.

Approx protein – 99g

This was helped by protein granola, whey protein, and tofu. And a little bit by the afternoon tea sandwiches containing ham or smoked salmon.


Friday Food Diary

Bit of a late post as I wanted to get a walk in before sunset having been sat down all day…

An hour’s walk took my steps up from 2000 to 7600. That’s better! And it was lovely to get out.

In the photos:

1️⃣ Usual protein porridge with berries and flaxseed

2️⃣ 2 boiled eggs for morning snack. Also had a few berries when browsing in the fridge

3️⃣ Salad for lunch with leftover fajita chicken, avocado and a few olives

4️⃣ 100g 0% fat Greek yogurt with 25g Fuel protein granola and fresh berries. Really tasty nutritious snack for about 220 calories (same as a lot of protein bars. This option has more nutrition and is probably quite a bit cheaper).

5️⃣ Homemade chicken and butternut squash curry. Using frozen butternut squash, reduced fat coconut milk, spinach, and half a sachet of steamed pilau rice.

6️⃣ Usual broccoli, carrots and sauerkraut with apple cider vinegar before dinner. Also had parsnip crisps (not shown) and 70g Jude’s cookie dough ice cream after dinner.

Calories – approx 2013

Tasty enjoyable day and good fuel for a bike ride + gardening tomorrow.

Protein – approx 149g

This was helped by whey protein, eggs, chicken, Greek yogurt, a little bit of protein granola, and chicken again at dinner.

Saturday Food Diary

This is the last one I will do of these, but I hope it’s been helpful.

Here’s what in these photos…

1️⃣ Usual protein porridge with berries and flaxseed

2️⃣ 2 pieces of biscoff chocolate (amazing!) and some berries. The chocolate was just before going on a bike ride, so was a good sugar boost for the ride too.

3️⃣ Greek yogurt with 2/3 scoop protein powder and a tbsp of cacao powder mixed in (really tasty). Plus 50g granola and fresh berries.

This after a 27 mile bike ride – good carbs and protein refuel.

4️⃣ Small bacon sandwich – a late lunch with my other half before an afternoon of gardening. We cut the fat off the bacon and grilled it to reduce calories.

5️⃣ Usual broccoli, carrots and sauerkraut with apple cider vinegar. Plus Jamie Oliver’s chicken and chorizo paella – our homemade version.

6️⃣ I realised halfway through the plateful of paella that I was getting a bit full, and still wanted a bit of sweetness from ice cream after. So I saved the rest of the paella for lunch the next day, and finished with about 1/4 of a tub of low calorie ice cream instead.

Calories – approx 2464

With a 27 mile bike ride and 12k steps, I’m happy with this amount. Enjoyed it all and it felt about the right amount of food.

Protein – approx 150g

This was helped by whey protein, Greek yogurt, a bit more whey protein, protein granola, bacon, and chicken.


To sum up my post-holiday food diary

I would definitely say that tracking my food intake for a week has helped me get back on track after lots of tasty indulgences on holiday.

Not for the first time, looking more closely at calories and portion sizes has reminded me just how easy it is to eat more than we think. And how small changes or tweaks to portion sizes can add up to make quite a difference over days and weeks.

It’s also motivated and inspired me to seek mostly great nutrition. So that it looks tasty and colourful, and so I can fit more food into the calories available.

Tracking calories can be time consuming and a bit of a faff, and it’s not necessary for everyone. So you if you are tracking food in any way and the feel the same, remember you don’t have to do it long term.

See how much you can learn in the time you do it. While you do that, aim to eat in a way that you enjoy, that feels sustainable. This way you’re essentially creating a template that works for you to keep going forward with (without having to measure and record it all).

That means mostly awesome nutrition that fuels your body and enables you to feel at your best. While also enjoying whatever else you love, sprinkled into the week

balanced eating


What can you take from this?

Keeping a food diary in some form (hand written, tracking calories in an app, or taking photos) is incredibly helpful if you have goals around nutrition, fitness and weight loss. What can be even more helpful alongside this, is making a plan ahead of time. That way, you minimise decision-making later on, and make helpful choices much easier for your future self.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself, to make nutritious food choices easier:

1. What default easy meals (with protein) can I have?

Having the ingredients for these meals in stock can really help, so you don’t have to keep making decisions when tired or in a rush. This can be for breakfast, lunch and dinner – what choices work well for you at each meal?

Some ideas are shown in this graphic:

food plan for weight loss
It doesn’t have to be this nutritious every time, but these are some ideas to help you feel at your best

2. What protein or fruit options can I have ready for snacks?

Same with this one – deciding ahead of time will make helpful choices a lot easier in the moment. And it can help you avoid the biscuits / crisps / chocolate / kids food that’s so easy to snack on otherwise.

Any fruit that you like is great for a snack, Here are some ideas for protein:

  • protein shake
  • Greek yogurt (or other high protein yogurt)
  • boiled eggs
  • babybels
  • meat slices (ham / chicken / turkey beef)
  • seafood sticks / prawns / smoked salmon
  • cooked tofu or tempeh
  • protein bar (Grenade, PhD Smart and Fulfil are 3 good protein bar brands that are available in most supermarkets)
  • ryvita with tinned salmon with bones (a brilliant snack for bone health – the bones in the salmon contain good quality calcium, and eating it with ryvita can make the ‘crunch’ more palatable)

For help and inspiration…

I have a podcast all about mindset for weight loss, nutrition, building habits, and the benefits of strength training for women.

It’s on all podcast platforms, and you can find it on Spotify via this link:

Think Healthy with Hayley podcast


If you’d love support, accountability and guidance to lose weight in a healthy, sustainable and enjoyable way, find out more about online coaching here:

Benefits of Having an Online Weight Loss Coach



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