The Power of a Food Diary
Do you remember what you ate yesterday? Or even this morning?
The truth is we often forget about what we eat. We may even think that we remember what we ate but quite often those ‘unplanned snacks’ can get forgotten about – handy when we’re trying to justify that evening chocolate bar! Interestingly, research shows that the larger that someone is, the more they tend to under-estimate how much they eat.
Writing down everything that you eat during the day can be a powerful tool if you’re trying to make dietary changes: A food diary can act as a personal tracker to monitor daily intake; at the end of the week you can then look back and see how well your eating plan went.
It can be useful to also write down any thoughts/feelings that you may be having at the time of eating as this will help you to identify ‘triggers’. For example, if you had 5 biscuits one evening and your thoughts were ‘because I was bored’, you could plan ahead for this i.e. plan an evening activity to keep you occupied after dinner whilst your brain in registering the food that you have just eaten. This could be a phone call to a friend or even just the washing up. By the time the activity is over you may not fancy the biscuits after all. Another solution could be to not have biscuits in the house – if it’s not there then you won’t be tempted! Never underestimate the power of changing your environment.
So why not give it a go? A one week food diary. Be your own assessor and analyse your eating behaviours:
- Are you having regular meals a day? (to keep energy levels up and excessive hunger at bay)
- Are you drinking at least 6-8 glasses of fluid a day? (hunger and thirst can often be confused)
- Are you having at least 5 portions of fruit & vegetables a day? (the fibre will help you to keep full!)
- Are you having 2 portions of fish a week, 1 of which is oily? (healthy fats for heart & skin)
- How many ‘treat’ foods are you having? (mark with a red pen any ‘junk foods’ to highlight these)
It’s all about knowing what you are eating now, identifying what needs to be improved, and then setting small, realistic and personal goals and ultimately changes.. do you abide by the 80:20 rule?
P.S Apps such as myfitnesspal (or their website myfitnesspal.com) are a great way of recording what you’re eating without a pen & paper or you could even use your smart phone to produce a daily ‘Photo Food Diary’ - like the one above!