A food diary is a brilliant way to find those bad habits we have accumulated over time. The extra glass of wine after a long day, that little chocolate Freddo Frog that was totally irresistible at 3pm at work! It highlights the areas we can choose to change and helps us ‘get our heads straight’.
In order to promote change, it is important to identify what we are eating. To promote healthy, permanent change, it is equally important to investigate the ‘how much’, ‘when’ and ‘why’.
As mentioned in the Tips for Healthy Eating, promise yourself to be honest – no point wasting your time and cheating yourself. It’s for your eyes only, no one else needs to see it (not even your nearest and dearest). Password protect it, if it makes you feel better!
This isn’t about making us feel bad about our choices – it’s just the first step to change. So try to leave the guilt and judgments at the door and treat this as a learning exercise – we’re learning a little more about ourselves.
There is a multitude of food diaries readily available. These range from simple calendars or PDF documents to smart phone apps that include calorie and nutrient trackers, body measurement, water intake and exercise tracking, charts/reports, recipe editors – you name it.
Choose something that works for you and
is portable. It needs to be your
constant companion, so you need to be able to work with it and not curse every
time you use it.
I'm a bit old school with this and prefer a sheet of paper on my desk that I can scribble on as I go :)
For a very basic template to get started – feel free to download The Healthy Eating Project Food Diary template.
Start by taking note of every single thing that you eat. Best to organize multiple times during the day to complete this. Inevitably if left until the end of the day, the extra wine or the chocolate Freddo Frog from this afternoon may be overlooked!
Serving sizes are important, as is when you eat, your mood and how your body feels afterwards. Note these down in your food diary. You may find patterns emerge. Mood may also contribute to comfort eating.
If you’re using a smart phone App, don’t get hung up on the calories and all the bells and whistles at this stage – we are really just looking for patterns.
As an example, I discovered a wheat sensitivity – every time I ate a sandwich or wrap for lunch, I felt bloated and suffered with stomach cramps during the afternoon. Although a sandwich or wrap is easy and convenient, I have found my body appreciates a varied gourmet salad or last night’s leftovers much more :)
Continue to use the diary for at least 3-6 months. The first month’s data should be sufficient to start highlighting any areas that need work and give you a starting point for your Action List.
Using the food diary after this initial period will help keep you on track during your Healthy Eating journey.
Happy Healthy Eating!
Tell us about it! We would love to hear what's working for you.