A few reasons why keeping a food diary can be a helpful tool in the management your health, energy and weight:
Accountability: Writing everything down (or capturing it on a smartphone application) and seeing your daily intake in black and white increases your awareness of how much you actually eat.
Can help you to think twice before adding extras: The extra dash of dressing on your salad, the chocolate bar you picked up when you stopped for petrol, even the second drink you had at dinner. They could all add up to another 150-650 extra calories throughout the day, yet we tend to forget about these little food extras and instead focus on our main meals. When it comes to food, it all adds up.
Helps you portion your foods: Keeping a food diary often means you’ll need to measure or weigh your food for an accurate record. A “medium” bowl can mean different sizes to different people – after measurement you may find your portion is actually a small or large serving when compared to the recommended serving on the package. Once you use more accurate methods of measurement, you will have a better understanding of portion control and portion distortion.
Highlights in connections to stress, emotion, timing and location: I often ask my clients to jot down not only their food choices and amounts but also the time of day, mood or emotions and location of their meal or snack. This can help people assess how stress may be controlling their food choices. Many people are shocked to realise that during the entire day, not one meal was consumed at a table but rather on the couch, in front of the TV or in the car – because we are not focusing on our food but rather other distractions around us, we often eat much more than intended.
Challenge yourself to monitor your intake (even for just a week) and soon it will become quite clear where your weaknesses lie and which areas you need to start focusing on. To help get you started download my food diary, print it, and start tracking your intake.