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Why keep a food diary? - Harvard Health Blog

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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Tracking your food
Tracking your food

During the lockdown, many people have to cook more at home. It makes this a great opportunity to start tracking what you eat.

Small steps toward understanding your eating habits can mak...

Measuring cups and a scale

Measuring your food can give you an idea of what a serving looks like. Measuring cups are handy, but they're even better when used with the scale. Weighing gives you a better understanding of a serving.

If you don't have a scale or cups, there are some very rough ways to estimate serving size metrics. For instance, your fist is about the same amount of volume as one cup, and the palm of your hand as four ounces of meat.

Use and app or paper

An app or a pen and paper can be used to track what you're eating

  • MyFitnessPal has become a popular food tracking app. It gives detailed information about different types of food.
  • ASA24.com is a self-administered 24-hour dietary assessment tool provided by the National Cancer Institute.
  • Weight Watchers or Noom offers support on top of simple tracking and give guidance to your eating.
  • HealthyOut is an app to help break down the nutritional information of food from restaurants.

Ultimately, choosing the right app is a matter of preference.

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 c...

Steer clear of opaque food containers

Don't eat out of food containers, boxes, and bags that aren't clear.

Our brains are highly visual. We take visual cues as to how much food we’ve eaten to help us know when we should stop. When you can't see how much food you’ve had, you never get that visual feedback and you end up eating way too much.

Ditch dieting

Dieting limits one's mind-set.

Once you're off your diet and have lost weight, you might revert back to eating poorly, not exercising and ultimately regain pounds. Instead, focus on your long-term eating habits.

Weight-loss interventions

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-l...

Ten healthy habits
  1. Keep a meal routine: Eat at roughly the same time each day.
  2. Go for healthy fats from nuts, avocado, and oily fish instead of fast food.
  3. Walk off the weight: Aim for 10,000 steps a day.
  4. Pack healthy snacks when you go out.
  5. Always check the labels for fat, sugar, and salt content.
  6. Use smaller plates, and drink a glass of water and wait five minutes before going back for seconds.
  7. Break up sitting time.
  8. Choose water and limit fruit juice to one small glass per day.
  9. Slow down and eat while sitting at a table.
  10. Always aim for five servings of vegetables a day.