A tool to sustain your drive
Imagine yourself doing all the right things for weight loss in a day. You did your exercises, ate the right food, avoided snacking and fast foods and you even stayed within the bounds of your calories limit. Despite how challenging it could be, you exercised sheer will power to do all of these, remaining much focused. With much hope of dropping some weight, you went to the scales very much expectant. The scale refused to move. Your hope has been unfairly dashed. You are beginning to feel if it was ever worth it, if were worth putting up all that effort to lose a few pounds of weight but to no avail. A whole day’s work with no visible or perceived result in sight. Is there any hope of you losing weight? Are you going to be motivated to put in all that effort the next day? If so, what about the day after and the day after and the next?
Weight lose could be very challenging, requiring a great deal of hard work, determination and consistency with result that takes time to manifest. Within this period, you need a motivating tool to keep you on track.
What is a food diary?
A food diary, as the name implies, simply means a diary where your daily food and drink intake is recorded. A food diary can be simplified into writing down your food/drink consumption in a jotter, book or online. A food diary when carefully recorded, can help you stay on track when trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight.
This has proved overtime to be a veritable for consistency in one’s journey to a healthy weight. You may probably feel you don’t need to record what you eat and drink, but the truth is that very few of us are truly conscious of how much, how often and exactly what we eat. Hence the importance of a food diary. The importance of a food diary can not be over emphasized as it is a first step in assessing your weight loss efforts.
How to keep a food diary
For a start, it is better for beginners to keep their food diary by simple recording in a jotter or notebook. It is advisable not to start from an online food diary so that all the details do not bog you down. It is important that immediately after every meal; you should record what you have just eaten/drank. Recording your feelings at the time of your meal is also very important especially if you are an emotional eater. Don’t trust your memory, do every recording immediately as you consume your foods and drinks. Since you will have to record while on the go, it implies you should keep your food diary with you all day and write down all you eat/drink, even enter snacks- like a piece of candy; cheese on vegetables and all other similar additions on food must be recorded as well.
Having mastered the art after about 7 days, you can then move to include some other details in your diary or move to an online food diary. Ideally food diaries are used for whole week, keeping it for even a day can help you make drastic diet changes. How long you keep yours is entirely up to you. You can stop it when you feel you don’t need it any more if it has finished serving its purpose for you.
Content of a food diary
A food diary ought to contain every detail that will help you to gauge your loss in weight. Ideally it contains the following:
Food/drink consumed: In this column record all food you eat in a day and drink(s) you drank. You must watch yourself closely to make sure you are recording every detail of your meal including extras like butter, ketchup, a cup of ice-cream etc. including all drinks as well as water.
Time: The time of the day you take your meals are as important as the type of food you eat. Eating at certain hours of the day is healthier than at some other times of the day. So please record the time as well.
Where: Was it in your house, restaurant or at a fast food joint. It is part of the daily records as well.
Alone or in company: Did you eat alone or you were in company of friends, colleagues, family etc. Some particular persons might trigger you to eat more. The names of your company while you were eating/drinking are very important.
Activity: What exactly were you doing while eating?
Emotions: What was your emotion like when eating? Were you happy, tensed, sad, bored or just hungry?
Amount/quantity consumed: Try to get an estimated or approximated amount of your entire food intake. The size, volume, number of items etc.
Calories: in order to know your amount of calories, carbohydrate, fats and proteins that you are eating, you need to carefully measure your protein sizes using kitchen scale and studying the portion sizes for packaged foods.
Daily reflection on your food diary
You must endeavor to ask your self some questions at the end of the day after you have filled up your food diary for the day.
- What kind of food characterised my meal for the day? High fat food/ Low fat food.
- Did you skip any meal? Yes/No
- Was your consumption triggered by your mood? Yes/ NO
4. Did I take my dinner late? Yes/No
- Did I eat more at night than any other time of the day? Yes/ No
- Was my habit responsible for any of my consumption today? Yes/NO
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then take your time to plan how to avoid it in future.
Tips for keeping a food diary
Don’t change your eating habit while keeping your food diary. It will help you gather the correct information about your eating habit.
Write down every thing and be as specific as possible.
Exercise patience until the end of the day before analyzing your records for the day.
For more detailed nutritional information, use the nutritional information on the package of the food you eat.
Keep your diary with you always.
Begin to record your food diary at once. Right now!
Importance of food diary
- Your food diary gives you knowledge of your current eating habit whether it is healthy or not.
- It will help you identify where your diet goes wrong.
- It will help you set and prepare healthier food menu in future.
- From your food diary, you can determine whether you have been having enough fruits, vegetables and whole grains, so also to keep your carb-fat-protein ratio in healthy proportion.
- It will help you break down your weight loss goals into smaller, more manageable daily parts.
- It can help you stop unconscious and emotional eating.
- Stay motivated
If you have a weight loss goal, then a food diary is an important tool for you which you must take seriously. For most people trying to lose weight, the difference between success and failure can be traced to a early understanding of their eating habit and the decision to change it for a healthier one.