Many people find that recording their dietary intake, and writing down their goals is extremely useful in helping them achieve their longterm goals.
Keeping a food diary is an excellent first step in assessing how you are currently eating and also why you eat the way you do. It may even help you find root problems with your current weight loss program.
What can I keep track of with a food diary?
- Fat, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, fruit and vegetables etc.
- Identify causes for lapsing.
- Assess reasons for eating (besides true hunger).
- Gauge timing and regularity of meals.
- Track portion sizes.
- Record feelings and mood after eating.
The most important advice I can give concerning this record is to be honest! There is no point under-reporting your eating habits as this will render the exercise pointless and will be a total waste of time.
Points to remember:
- Update your diary as you eat, otherwise it will be difficult to remember what you’ve eaten.
- Be specific (how the food was prepared, what sauce it was served with etc).
- Stick with it! You may be amazed at how much you will learn about your eating pattern.
What is a portion size?
For portion sizes use measurement terms such as cups, grams, kilograms, ounces and slices. For example, you might record that you ate 75g of pasta, 1 cup of oatmeal or 1 slice of bread. I’ll be discussing the details of portion sizes soon, so stay tuned for that!
Focus on Feelings
If you want to focus on the reasons why you eat the way you do, you may want to spend time reflecting feelings in your diary. After you have eaten, write down why you ate (hunger, boredom, stress) and how you felt afterwards (guilty, deserving). On a scale of 1 to 10 you could illustrate how strong your cravings were. You may notice a pattern emerging as to when you overeat; if so you could plan other activities for the future, which will take your mind off food.
By looking at your emotions and the reasons why you were eating, you will be able to assess whether or not you are giving in to binge eating, emotional eating or if you are in the habit of eating more among certain people.
Remember to include all activities you are involved with during the day. Activities may comprise making beds, sweeping floors, walking the dog, running, walking up stairs, exercising at home etc. It really is worth making a note of these activities since you may notice areas where improvement could be made and also areas were you are doing well.
For setting SMART goals please refer back to the original article for guidelines.
We can do so much by the simple task of setting goals and by keeping a food diary. Perhaps you could start by recording a diary for three days (at least one of these days should be at the weekend). The task may seem rather laborious, however I hope, if you stick with it, you will benefit from the exercise! You don’t have to wait for a special day or a special meal, why not print the diaries included at the beginning of this post and get started now!
Feel free to contact me with any queries, and feel free to share your own successes, we would love to hear from you!