Reach Your Goals with a Food Diary

If you aim to change your eating habits, a food diary is a very powerful tool. Writing down exactly what you eat, how much and when will give you a good idea of your eating habits. A food diary is useful on many levels:

–    It makes you accountable, so you think twice before popping that chocolate in your mouth.
–    It highlights existing habits i.e. snacking in the evening.
–    Including writing down everything you drink can also help you drink more water (one of the most basic aspects of good health is hydration).
–    It can help track peaks and troughs in energy levels, especially if you are a caffeine / chocolate fiend.

A food diary is a time commitment and you need to ensure it is updated regularly and thoroughly for it to be meaningful. Remember to write down absolutely everything (this includes if you have a bite of someone’s sandwich, or finish off your children’s food). Weighing some of your basic foods is also a useful exercise (also to ensure your portions are actually standard size). Knowing the quantity that you eat is crucial if you use an online tool like the very fine (and free) www.myfitnesspal.com  An online food diary will also show you the nutritional content of your food. The quality of information you receive online is only as accurate what you input, so it’s useful to keep labels of food for the nutritional content. Even better, eat food with no labels!

Fruit and Veg

There are a number of limiting factors with a food diary. It is common for people to forget about snacks (indeed, I once met a person who snacked at midnight, but did not recall until I picked up on it through conversation). Or, the situation where a packet of biscuits is opened and the amount consumed underestimated. I have found that many people feel guilty about situations like this and find writing it down almost an impossible task. If you make yourself accountable, is it likely that you will be more mindful of how much of the packet is consumed. We all like treats, and a food diary will show you if you’re indulging in treats as a regular habit, or indeed as a treat.

Eating can be wrapped up in emotional issues, so if you feel unsure about a food diary, just try it for a day. Carry it around with you so you remember to write in it. Remember it is natural to slip up, and that you can still enjoy going out for dinner and occasional indulgences. A food diary should highlight that your average day-to-day habits are healthy. Check you’re getting your five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, that you are prioritising wholegrain over white carbs and that you are drinking enough water and you will be well on the way to good health.

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