The Value of a Food Diary

Keeping a food diary can be a valuable tool to making sure you are eating a healthy, balanced diet and not overeating. Much of the food we consume during the day, we do without thinking much about it. By writing down everything you consume, you can get a realistic look at the state of your diet, and see where changes need to be made.

Getting Started

You can keep a food diary in either an electronic or paper format. There are even websites that help you to record all the foods you have eaten throughout the day, their calorie count and nutritional breakdown. This isn’t necessary to benefit from keeping a food diary, however. While typing out your intake on your computer is a great way to record it, the benefit of a paper diary is portability; you can take you food diary with you to work or other locations so that you can record your food intake immediately and not risk forgetting when you try to record it later.

Once you have decided whether you would rather keep an electronic record or a paper one, starting is easy. Just write down the date at the top of the page, and start recording everything you eat during that day. You can break it down into breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks to keep it organized.

What to Record

Record everything you consume, even down to the smallest portion. If you ate two almonds, write it down. A sip of your husband’s beverage? Record it. How detailed you wish to be about your recording is up to you. Adding the time you ate the food is important to help determine what your eating patterns are throughout the day. This will tell you when you get hungry and when you tend to consume the most.

Many people also find it helpful to record how they were feeling when they ate. Using a single word such as “tired”, “hungry” or “stressed” can help you to uncover the hidden motives behind some of your eating habits. It will help you to learn how often you ate when you weren’t really hungry, but faced with other feelings that led you to ingest food. Many of us eat when we aren’t hungry because things like fatigue, depression, and stress trigger a desire to find some sort of comfort in food. Learning what your triggers are can help you to avoid overeating.

How Long to Record

You can learn a lot about your eating habits from a week or two of keeping a food diary, however a full month will tell you more. As hormone levels fluctuate throughout the month, it can be helpful to see if your food intake changes along with them. A full month of recording also gives a balanced picture of your eating habits throughout different levels of stress, sleep, and other changes from week to week.

There is no reason not to keep a food diary indefinitely. It will help you to remain mindful of what you are consuming and keep it in check. It will also help you to plan a balanced diet, seeing which foods were lacking one week so that you can make up for it the next.

A food diary is helpful for not only weight loss, but taking steps towards a healthier, more nutrient rich eating plan. Knowing what you are eating will help you to make necessary changes so that you are eating right, and eating the right amount, too. Especially during pregnancy, this an excellent tool for keeping your diet on track.

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