“Today I ate a frosted pop tart for breakfast, a hot pocket for lunch and half a large cheese pizza for dinner. Then I thought about going to the gym, but decided to zone out on the boob tube relax instead. I can’t figure out why I’m not losing weight!”
Hopefully your diet doesn’t actually look like this. However, recording your food intake in a food diary can make you honestly evaluate your eating habits, develop goals, and track your progress.
Our minds are more like aluminum foil than steel traps. Our selective memories recall those three broccoli sprouts at dinner, but conveniently forget the bag of chips munched on throughout the entire episode of Jersey Shore a modern urban documentary. By recording every morsel that enters your mouth, you may realize how much mindless snacking occurs. That handful of M&Ms and five pretzels and cookie or two adds up to a lot of food.
How in depth should a food diary go? Include as many details as you want.
I used a spiral notebook as one of my first diaries. The date topped each page followed by a simple list of food. Cereal and 2% milk, chicken alfredo with broccoli, etc. At the time, I simply listed what I ate, not how much or when.
How much you eat matters. One slice of apple or the entire fruit? One bowl of cereal or eight? It makes a difference. Tracking how many servings or cups or slices of each food will make you aware of where to improve. Maybe you want to decrease your slices of pizza, but increase slices of watermelon.
Recording the times you eat can help determine trends in over-eating. Are you more likely to grab an unhealthy option late at night? Right after work? Do you skip breakfast, then stuff your face over-indulge at lunch? Recording the times you eat can help uncover these tendencies.
Once you know what needs to change, maintaining a food diary helps track progress and keeps you accountable. If it goes in your mouth, it goes in the diary. Does the thought of recording that entire block of cheddar cheese in the diary make you cringe? You’ll think twice before shoveling it in.
Do you keep a food diary or know someone who does? Have you (or they) found success with this tool? What do you think of this diary mumbo-jumbo? Silly? Ridiculous? Ingenious?
Photo credit: jjpracres via Flickr