Why keep a food diary?
Many people begin the new year with a resolve to improve their health. This improvement often starts with changing what they eat.
A food diary can be a useful tool in this process. It can help you understand your eating habits and patterns, and help you identify the foods — good and not-so-good — you eat on a regular basis. Research shows that for people interested in losing weight, keeping a journal can be a very effective tool to help change behavior. In one weight loss study of nearly 1,700 participants, those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records.
What should you include in a food diary?
Most experts agree that the secret to successful food journaling is accuracy and consistency. So, what should you record? A basic food diary should include the following:
- What are you eating? Write down the specific food and beverage consumed and how it is prepared (baked, broiled, fried, etc.). Include any sauces, condiments, dressings, or toppings.
- How much are you eating? List the amount in household measures (cups, teaspoons, tablespoons) or in ounces. If possible, it is best to weigh and measure your food. If you are away from home, do your best to estimate the portion.
- When are you eating? Noting the time that you’re eating can be very helpful in identifying potentially problematic times, such as late-night snacking.
Jotting down where you’re eating, what else you’re doing while you’re eating, and how you’re feeling while eating can help you understand some of your habits and offer additional insight.
- Where are you eating? Record the specific place you are consuming food, whether it’s at the kitchen table, in your bedroom, in the car, walking down the street, at a restaurant, or at a friend’s home.
- What else are you doing while eating? Are you on the computer, watching TV, or talking with a family member or a friend?
- Who are you eating with? Are you eating with your spouse, children, friend, or a colleague, or are you alone?
- How are you feeling as you’re eating? Are you happy, sad, stressed, anxious, lonely, bored, tired?
Source : Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN Contributor, Harvard Health Blog