Do you feel like you are doing everything right and not meeting your weight loss goals? Are you just deciding to take control of your eating? No matter where you are your healthy eating journey learning how to keep a food diary is a great resource.
Benefits of Keeping A Food Diary
Tracking your food lets you see what you are actually putting into your body. Do you eat an amazing breakfast and lunch, then go for broke at dinner, eating everything in sight? Are you on track until the weekend rolls around and you binge on booze and hot wings? Are you barely eating at all?
These are all things that will show up if you are keeping a food diary.
Tracking your food as long as you are doing it honestly, holds you accountable. Don’t cheat here or fudge your numbers. Try to be as real as possible even if it’s embarrassing. You won‘t see results if you are lying and deluding yourself.
Trust me I sometimes fudge the numbers or think I only had a little. Sometimes turns out I was right, sometimes I wasn’t. Don’t guess measure it. It leaves you in complete control. You might be able to eye ball it but sometimes it’s good to make sure your measurements are still on track.
Find Problem Areas
- Did I really just eat 1,000 calories worth of avocado?
- How much sugar was in that sweet tea?
- Always way under on your protein intake?
Keeping track of your eating allows you to see what’s really going on.
- Do you always get hungry at the same time?
- Is there a stressful situation where each day you find yourself grabbing a handful of junk? Maybe it’s when the kids are getting home from school, you just got home from work and it’s time to duel wield dinner and homework?
Acts as A Buffer
You may think twice about having a cookie or an extra cocktail if you know you will see you’re over indulgences staring back at you in ink later.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Make sure you know what you are wanting to do with your food diary so you are recording the right information. You have to know what you are trying to discover before you get started or you will get overwhelmed.
What are you Trying to Do?
- Make sure you are getting the correct amount of calories?
- Keep track of a certain Nutrient?
- Find unhealthy patterns or emotional food triggers?
- You read somewhere that keeping a food diary will help you reach your weight loss goals.
There are a variety of ways you can keep track of your food intake. Which one is right for you?
- Sticky Notes
Don’t know what to decide? Here are some questions to help you pick.
- What will I have easiest access to?
- How do I normally track things?
- How organized are you?
Pick the option that seems most pleasant and hassle free but won’t be forgotten.
For example, I would love to take photos of my food as my journaling, but I have noticed more often than not my food is in my belly before I remember I needed to take a photo. I also like feel like recording actual numbers helps me get a more accurate picture than a picture of chicken and vegetables. This may work great for someone who is just wanting to make sure they are picking healthy options.
There are several apps on your phone that can be used to track your progress. I like My Fitness Pal the best. If you are going to use your computer Spark People is pretty awesome and has a huge community for support.
Are you a pen a paper kind of girl? Check out my free Food Diary Printable. Grab a binder and a hole punch and you are set.
Use Instagram for a food diary of pictures. Make your plate, click take a pic, and upload it to your Instagram feed. #healthyeating
If you are extra creative and artsy, you might want to try out something like Alisa Burke’s sketching her food choices. I absolutely love this idea and Alisa’s sketchbooks, but there is no way I would ever get it done!
Information to Track
- What time did you eat?
- What did you eat and how much?
- How hungry were you? I ate because it was time vs. I ate because I was gonna starve
- What type of emotions were you experiencing? A case of the hangries, happy trees
- Certain nutrients that are on track with your goals or medical conditions (sugar, protein, carbs, fats)
Make sure you track everything accurately and don’t forget your drinks and condiments…they can really add up!
**Pro Tips**Record your food right after you eat it. This will make your actual recordings most accurate.
Make sure you measure! This one is really important. Whether you use a measuring cup, a food scale, or your hand are eyeballs can mislead us.
Things to Remember
It can feel like a pain in the butt. However it’s free and it’s super useful. About 100x better than any diet pills you are going to buy off the shelf. Keeping track of your food really works.
Food diaries can be embarrassing. It’s ok, you will screw up, and you will eat the cookie. Write it down.
You will make mistakes. At some point you are going to eat get sidetracked and forget to write it down. It doesn’t matter it’s no big deal. Jump right back into your next meal or snack. Don’t give up because you slipped up, it’s not important in the scheme of things. Picture yourself tracking your next meal, remind yourself you are awesome and move on.
Why Food Diaries are Worth their Weight in Gold
After about a week you should sit down and go over your diary. This is giving you the insight into what you put in your body! Look for patterns. See what was happening at certain times? You now have the ability to start changing problem areas or pat yourself on the back because you are doing a knockout job. Give yourself a pat on the back for finding your problem areas too because now you have the ability to change them!
Continue to go over your food journal every one two weeks. Once you have been tracking for at least 6 weeks and you are seeing consistent results you can cut back to once a month if you would like. Anytime you start seeing an issue, go right back to looking at your diary to see what can be improved. Make sure you go back to a weekly check up if you quit seeing results! You most likely can fix the problem quickly.
Hopefully you enjoyed learning how to keep a food diary. I really urge you to try using a food diary to help meet your goals whether they are for weight loss or healthy eating. Tracking what goes in your body is invaluable. Don’t forget if you would like you can grab these printable food journals for absolutely free to get you started!