09 Mar Keeping A Diet Diary
Last month we discussed the value of keeping a diet journal, now let’s talk about the best ways to make that log meaningful to you.
Diaries are meant to give you a sounding board for how your day went and keeps a log of events for you to review. Being able to look back at how you have changed over time and recognizing the turning points in your history will help you to progress and understand the new and ever evolving you. The same should be true for your diet diary. Keeping a food journal is not just about writing out how many calories you consumed or what you ate, it’s about logging the mindset you have toward the food you eat and gaging your daily progress while keeping yourself accountable. We will cover the best practices to keeping a daily diet journal and different ways you might utilize this tool.
Step 1. Pick Your Preference
Are you a paper and pen writer? Or a tech notes kind-of person? Figure out what best suits you for keeping a daily record. Are you keeping a private blog of your weight loss progress? This would be a great place to include your thoughts and feelings about what and how much you ate today. If you prefer the experience of physically writing, keep a mini journal with you to write before you bite. There are also phone apps that will conveniently log all your daily eats.
Step 2. Daily Upkeep
Creating new habits take time. Journaling requires daily practice, so find ways to fit writing in your diet diary throughout the day. Think about what your typical day looks like and when the best time will be for you to log your day. Are you a meal planner? Start your meal list at the beginning of your day and make updates as you stray. Snack guided? If you aren’t sticking to a regimented diet, tracking food becomes even more important. This will help you pinpoint where those unwanted calories are being consumed. If you eat at random, keep your food journal handy and update right before or after you consume something. If you find yourself struggling to keep an accurate record, incentivize good note keeping by writing out what is in front of you before eating or drinking.
Step 3. Include Everything
Writing in your journal after every meal and snack will help you become a conscious eater. It is important to include the actual amount of food you ate as well as the entirety of your meal. Get specific with the items in your list, if you are eating a dish with multiple contents name each one individually. Do not forget to list the drinks you have throughout the day. One of the easiest ways to consume large amounts of calories is through liquids. It is easy to throw back drink after drink without realizing how fast those calories add up. Before you touch those snacks, consider why you are feeling snacky or if you are replacing an emotion with hunger. It is so easy to fall into a trap of seeking easy comfort food instead of dealing with other internal issues. Many times, we also confuse hunger with thirst, so try drinking water before deciding whether you really are snacky.
Step 4. Becoming a Conscious Eater
As you write about the things you are eating consider how each snack, meal, or drink made you feel. Reflect on what each item did for you, whether it satisfied a real dietary need or was consumed out of pleasure. If you struggle with binge eating/drinking, write about those urges and how you feel afterwards. We all get cravings, but we should not allow our food to control us, especially if they make us feel guilty. The real reason we eat is for nutrition, everything else is out of a secondary emotion. As you practice good journal keeping you will come to realize what foods make you feel good and understand more about yourself through your relationship with food.