Do you find that you are gaining weight or are having trouble losing weight but you’re not exactly sure why? A food diary can help you to identify the reasons behind weight gain or plateaus and help you to create a healthy eating plan that is right for you and your lifestyle. Read on to learn more.
A food diary is a way of looking at your eating patterns and how you may change them for the better. It helps you to identify any current problems that you may have and the root cause of them. The food diary will also help you to design an eating plan that works best for you and your health.
Some of the things that you can track in a food diary include:
• nutritional information such as
o sodium etc
• areas that may present a problem for you
• see where you have lapsed in your eating plan
• find out why you are eating (other than being hungry)
• portion sizing
• your appetite levels and the types of food you crave
• how you feel after you eat
When designing your food diary, there is no need to make it complicated. Any notebook will do, even an unused school book. You can also choose to keep your diary on the computer, in a word processing program of your choice. It doesn’t matter what your food diary is as long as you’re honest in it. You will not get the results that you are looking for if you are not completely honest.
If you are recording your fat, calorie, or other food intake, ensure that you have a reliable guidebook that gives you the information that you need. Create a number of columns – one for the food you have eaten, and one each for each nutrient you are keeping track of such as carbohydrates, fats, protein, etc. Write down everything that you eat, not just your meals. Include all of your drink and snack foods as these can be hidden traps in your goal of weight management. At the end of each day, add up your totals and compare them to the goals that you have set yourself. A dietician or nutritionist can give you information on how much you need of fat, carbohydrates etc.
You can also focus on portions, that is, how much you eat. Looking at your portion sizes can provide valuable insight into where extra weight is coming from. Often you don’t realise that you are eating more than you should be and a food diary can help point this out to you.
If you are an emotional eater, it may be helpful to use your food diary to help record the emotions that surround the food that you eat. Write down why you ate – because you were hungry, or bored, angry, etc. Also record how you felt after eating – satisfied, angry at yourself, disappointed, and so forth. It may help to record the time of overeating so that you can eliminate that potential trigger. By seeing the reasons behind your eating, you can assess yourself and your reasons for eating – if it’s emotional, if it’s social, binge eating, etc. Looking at these reasons is very important if you hit a plateau or are gaining weight and can’t seem to figure out why.
No matter how you choose to use your food diary, it helps you to become more conscious of your food intake and your eating patterns, both of which are critical if you are going to be successful in losing weight. What you need from your food diary is unique to you so ensure that you are using it honestly and responsibly. If you are confused about getting started, searching for “food diary templates” on the internet can provide you with some great starting points.