Keeping a food diary

Keeping a food diary

A food diary is a useful tool to help people improve their health. It can help you understand your eating habits and help you identify what foods you eat regularly.

In a weight-loss study, participants who kept a daily food record lost twice as much weight as those who did not keep a record.

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  • Write down the food or beverage as soon as you consume it.
  • Be very specific. If you are drinking a latte, write down the type and size.
  • Include any alcoholic beverages you consume.
  • Use smartphone apps like Lose It! or MyFitnessPal for information on calories and other nutrients.
  • Write down what specific foods you are eating, your beverage consumed, and how your food is prepared (baked, fried, etc.) Include sauces and dressings.
  • List how much you are eating in household measures (cups, teaspoons, tablespoons.) If possible, weigh and measure your food.
  • Note the times you're eating to identify potentially problematic times, such as late-night snacking.

Also jot down where you are eating, what else you're doing while eating, who you eat with, and how you feel while eating.

Step back and look what you've recorded. Look for trends, patterns, or habits. You might consider these questions:

  • How healthy is my diet?
  • How many servings of fruit and vegetables do I eat every day?
  • Am I eating whole grains each day?
  • Do I consume added sugar? If so, how frequently?
  • Do my moods affect my eating habits?
  • How often do I eat on the run?

Once you know which areas you can improve, set one or two healthy eating goals using the SMART goal format. That is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based.
For example:

  • Observing that you eat two servings of vegetables per day, a SMART goal can be to eat three servings of vegetables per day.
  • Or if you order takeout three nights per week, your SMART goal can be to order takeout only once or twice per week.

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RELATED IDEAS

We make more than 200 food decisions a day, and most of these appear to be habitual, which means we eat without thinking about what or how much food we consume.

A new study found weight-loss interventions that are based on forming new habits, and breaking old habits is the key to a healthy weight.

2

IDEAS

Spontaneous meal skipping

In most scenarios, you don't need to follow a structured intermittent fasting plan in order to reap its benefits.

Skip meals from time to time when you're inclined to do so because you're not that hungry or too busy to cook. It's spontaneous but make sure to eat healthier during the other meals.

Revisit what you know

Energy balance is the first key to achieving one's ideal body. It's a way of saying calories in versus calories out. Your body needs a certain amount of calories to maintain its current body weight.

Once you understand energy balance, you might feel less tempted to eat more than you really need.

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