Keeping a food diary can provide effective support to any weight loss program. It is easy to underestimate how much you are eating, or forget important sources of calories, particularly those that are so habitual you don’t think about them.
Most weight loss programs you join will suggest you keep a food diary, so that you can see how much you are really consuming. You’ll find it also gives you a surprising sense of control, and research says it really works for those who do it.
How To Start A Food Diary
Begin your food journal by writing a few lines about why you are choosing to make these lifestyle changes. Go beyond losing weight, and get clear on what it means to you to lose that weight. What will change in your life when you have lost the weight?
Track It All
Keeping a food journal or diary means keeping track of everything you eat. Every bite, every snack, every drink and Neil is recorded. Usually, it’s not necessary to keep the weight loss journal forever. Just a few weeks of tracking your food intake accurately will allow you to see hidden calories you were forgetting to count in your intake, as well as nutritional inadequacies that need to be corrected.
Paper or Electronic Food Journals Are Fine
You don’t need to get fancy to keep a food diary. A plain notebook works just fine, or you can keep your food diary on your computer in a word processing document or spreadsheet. It depends on whether you prefer to write or type, and how detailed you want your records to be. If you use a spreadsheet such as Excel, it’s easy to total calories if you plan to go to that level of detail.
You Decide How Detailed It Needs To Be
Often it’s not necessary to track calories, although some people like to. Simply the act of writing down all of the food that you consume can be eye-opening. The key is to include everything.
You can’t leave out cans of pop, or even sticks of gum. Even zero calorie “diet” beverages count, since they’ve been proven to cause weight gain. In any case, you’ll want to track liquids since hydration and water intake is so important. You can also make note of protein, fiber, and other nutrients. Notice how you are doing with portion sizes, and make a note if you think work needs to be done in that area.
Also note down hunger, cravings, signs of emotional eating, and general observations about how you feel about your diet plan. Some people also choose to record exercise activity and general mood for the day. Don’t forget to record your wins!
Get It Recorded
It’s best to update your food diary several times every day. The whole point is not to trust your memory when it comes to remembering everything you eat or drink. Keep it handy, and make your notes immediately when you consume something.
Meal Planning Bonus
It can be quite effective to combine your food diary with meal planning. Take some time each evening, or in the morning if that works better for you, to plan out your meals for the day. Whether you intend to consume three or four (or even five) meals, list them down as well as the snacks you are planning on. You can even plan several days ahead, which makes grocery shopping easy.
In your notebook, use the left hand side to for your planned eating. On the right-hand side, list everything you actually eat or drink. This way, you’ll be able to see how well you stuck to your plan. If something unanticipated comes up, make a note on the page. You’re giving a reason, not an excuse. Over time, you’ll see patterns in what throws you off your plan.
Free Food Diary
If you prefer, instead of using a notebook you can download and print the two-day dietMD Hawaii Food Diary and use it to record your progress.