How often do we keep track of what goes into our mouths ... the food, the drinks, the cigarettes? Did you know that using a food diary is one of the best kept coaching secrets to help you lose weight and affect healthy behaviour changes?
Why is this, you ask?
There is a certain discipline involved with keeping track and noting down everything one consumes. Doing just that further affirms your intention for clarity and commitment to do what it takes to lose weight and get healthier.
Changing one’s unhealthy eating habits is hard, but it is easier once you have more clarity on what exactly needs to change. Keeping a food diary can show up eating patterns that either serve to support you or undermine your health goals and weight loss desires.
How do you go about keeping your food diary?
I recommend writing it down by hand the old-fashioned way. This makes you more accountable for your diet and in touch with its realities. Always try to record information at the time of consumption because otherwise the memory is prone to fade and important details can be forgotten and lost. A food diary is most constructive when written up and assessed over a focused and finite period.
What does a food diary show you?
It shows up what you ARE doing …and what you are NOT doing. Maybe you think you are getting in a good balanced diet but on a closer look you realise that there is still room for improvement. This type of journaling can provide definite answers and objective feedback on the following common health concerns:
Are you getting in your ‘5 a day’ or minimum recommended daily intake for fruits and vegetables?
Do you skip breakfast routinely?
How many cups of coffee or tea did you drink in a day?
Do you drink enough water?
Do you engage in mindless snacking in front of the TV?
Are you an emotional eater and binger after triggering situations?
Keeping a food diary could also help you to link unpleasant aftereffects to specific foods. These insights may lead you to eliminate food culprits and solve digestive discomforts or allergic reactions.
Journaling a step further with food and mood
Keeping a ‘food AND mood diary’ goes a step further than the humble food diary. This helps you to connect your food ‘dots’ with your mood ‘dots’. Just like in childhood dot to dot exercises, suddenly a picture can appear, and you will be able to clearly see the entity with which you are dealing. Only then the steps needed to break a negative cycle, may be apparent.
These are some of the questions you might want to ask yourself in your food and mood journal:
What did I eat or drink and the quantities?
What day of the week and time was this?
What were the circumstances when I ate or drank this and what was I doing?
Was I alone or did I have company?
How hungry was I?
What emotions was I feeling? Did anything trigger me to feel this way?
How did my mind and body feel afterwards?
Logging in the data is only one step in the journaling process. You can get even more out of this exercise by setting aside time to regularly review what you have recorded. That way you can spot behavioural patterns and eating habits of which at first glance, you weren't aware.
Any health journey begins often with a few tentative steps in a desired direction. But achieving your weight loss goals requires both willpower and ‘skillpower’. Using the humble food diary or a more in-depth food and mood journal can be a simple yet effective self-help tool, and an important awareness promoting step in the journey to health.
If you would like to download a free food and mood diary template, go to the community group tab and become a member.