Here at Heart Health Coach, we generate an overall risk score for our clients to help them decide which areas to focus on first. The diet risk score is a portion of the overall score, and here is how we calculate it. We don’t ask what you eat like other traditional dietary intake forms.
Mainstream Dietary Assessment
So, let’s ask our medical director, Dr. Mo, what his diet was today. He’ll likely list what he ate and what time he ate them. The ingredients might be simple if he made everything from scratch, but that’s not the reality.
Our clients who tell us they never eat sugar or processed foods might have mayo, dates, and the occasional chips. It’s so infrequent for them that they use the term “never.”
Observational or questionnaires on food intake are notoriously inaccurate. Instead, we use an alternative diet assessment questionnaire.
- Where do you shop for groceries?
- Who does the grocery shopping?
- What’s in your fridge and cabinets?
- What was the last thing you put into your mouth?
These are high-yield diet-related questions that are more telling than asking someone about their diet directly.
News and media have made food and diet a bit of a complex topic; too complex and subjective for traditional diet questionnaires to be accurate.
Diet Risk Score
Based on the answers above and a few other questions, we calculate the diet risk score of the client.
Buying at mainstream grocery stores often will result in less nutritious food with a higher chance of eating processed meals.
If the person is quite particular about doing their own grocery shopping, it indicates that they have a specific dietary goal they are trying to achieve.
The contents of our fridge and pantry can say a lot about what ends up in our stomachs. Perhaps the box of Wheaties won’t be eaten, maybe it’s for the significant other or the kids, but it’s in the house, and it’s processed.
The last thing that went into someone’s mouth could be a bite of a donut because a coworker offered them one, or it could have been an energy bar because they missed their lunch.
Absolute Risk Score Value
At HHC, we don’t worry too much about the actual score – the number itself is irrelevant. What matters is how this number changes over time.
For some, diet will be the biggest factor in their overall Heart Health risk, and by making some changes based on this dietary risk score, their overall cardiovascular risk should improve.
Using trends, our clients don’t get into the habit of comparing themselves to others. Instead, they can focus on how their risk scores change over time using their own N=1.