Everybody wants to “eat healthy”; but not everyone knows how to make that a reality, or in fact, what that really means. A food diary is probably the best tool for tracking everything that goes into one’s mouth (that is, assuming he/she is honest in actually writing everything down!).
When it comes to eating, I think most people are motivated by how they feel; if they feel like crap after eating something, it make take a while, but they’ll eventually stop (if they don’t, they have only themselves to answer to).
Ultimately, the key is to build a strong, nutrient-dense, and delicious base on which to live a healthy, energetic, and happy life. I would refer a client to a registered dietician/ nutritionist if they needed more than just basic advice.
What I have found to be very effective is to have them keep a food diary. There’s something about seeing what your ingesting in writing that brings it all home. Also, by keeping a food diary, it’s amazing how many clients begin to “self-correct” by eating more healthily because they don’t want to turn in a bad diary 🙂
I like to say, “Exercise is only 20% of the solution, while eating healthfully is 80%.” I ask them to record what they’re eating for four or five days (include at least one weekend day) because unfortunately, most of us eat pretty the same foods over and over. A few days is generally enough time for the client to see a pattern and for trainers to look for holes, such as not enough water, fruits or vegetables. Then we start with one specific goal per week, “This week, I’m going to carry a water bottle everywhere.” Small steps lead to big changes.