6 Reasons Why You Should Be Keeping A Food Diary
Benefits Of A Food Diary – Food Diary Guide – What You Eat In A Day
Food diary. One of the many current buzzwords around dieting and fitness today. What is a food diary? Why should I keep one? Do I need to keep one? All extremely good questions which, we are answering in this article.
THE VIDEO: Benefits Of A Food Diary – Food Diary Guide – What You Eat In A Day
What is a food diary?
A food diary is a useful tool in helping you understand your eating habits and patterns and helps you identify the foods that are good, and not so good, that you eat on a regular basis.
Why should I keep a food diary?
After conducting a weight loss study including nearly 1,700 participants, those clever folks over at Harvard University discovered that those who kept food diaries lost twice as much weight compared to those who kept no record throughout the study. Therefore, if you want to lose weight then, keeping a food diary is the perfect way to do that.
However, we do not believe that keeping a food diary is limited to the benefit of weight loss. We believe there are far more positive reasons why keeping a food diary is an excellent idea and have listed our top 6 below.
6 Reasons Why You Should Be Keeping A Food Diary
- It makes you more aware of what you are actually consuming.
This point relates to the nutritional content of the food you consume in regard to your recommended daily allowance (RDA). Say you have been craving pizza all day and you decide to swing by Domino’s on the way home and grab a 12” pepperoni pizza. Just one of those slices of pizza will cost you 208 calories of your RDA. Now, we know this doesn’t sound like much but multiply that by the 8 slices and you have potentially consumed 1,664 calories. You log this in your food diary and you very quickly realise that is over half the RDA for both males and females alike. So, the next time you have a desperate craving for pizza, you pop down to the local supermarket instead and grab a pepperoni pizza that you can cook at home. You consume the entire pizza, satisfying your cravings and very quickly realise after looking at the box and noting down the nutritional information about the pizza that the whole 12” pizza was only 422 calories, just less than a quarter of the RDA for females and less than fifth for males. For future reference, because you have kept this food diary, you now know that you can treat yourself to a pizza whilst, still consuming plenty of other food throughout the day and likely not go over your RDA so you do not gain weight.
- It will help you identify what a good portion size really is.
Say for example, you eat a large bowl of spaghetti Bolognese but after eating it, you feel really full up and unable to finish off your food. You write this down in your food diary to say that you were too full and could not finish this specific bowl size. The following week, you have spaghetti Bolognese again but this time, after consulting your food diary, you serve yourself a smaller bowl knowing that you couldn’t finish the previous bowl size. This time, you are able to finish all the food and are happily satisfied after consuming the meal. You write this down in your food diary so that you now know this is a suitable portion size for you when you eat spaghetti Bolognese. Extrapolate that with every meal you eat and you will then have a visual understanding of the amount of food you need to consume per meal to leave you satisfied without wasting food or leaving you hungry still.
- It can make you conscious of emotional eating.
Let’s say that every Wednesday, it is your busiest day and this makes you super stressed out. By keeping logged in your diary what emotion you are feeling on that particular day of the week, you can then, begin to correlate that emotion to your food choices on that particular day. Whether it is that you consume more fast food on that day or you decide to go for more sugar based options, you can begin to identify patterns in your food choices when feeling that particular emotion. Subsequently, you can now begin to put in place strategies to help you combat that and prevent you from overindulging when you can expect to feel a certain way. This could be by preparing meals ahead of this day to avoid making these poor choices when experiencing those emotions.
- It can help you track energy levels.
When writing down what you consume for every meal and snack of the day, you can also, write down what your energy levels are like before and after consuming a particular meal in a food diary. For example, you’re working in the office and you are really struggling to concentrate on your tasks as you’re feeling really lethargic but lunchtime is just around the corner so you jot down in your food diary how you are feeling in terms of your energy levels pre-meal consumption. You go to the cafeteria and you order fish and chips for lunch. You feel satisfied for 5 minutes and then head back to your office. Once you sit down, the initial satisfaction of the meal wears off and you begin to notice that your energy levels are still pretty low and you still cannot concentrate on your work so you note this down in your diary. The next day, you feel exactly the same before lunch so you note this down in your diary but this time when you head to the cafeteria you decide to go for the chicken breast with broccoli and brown pasta. When you return to your desk, you notice that your energy levels are far higher than yesterday and you are able to really focus on your work and be extremely productive so you note this down. After a period of time, you can look back on your food diary and you will see that you have built up a bank of foodstuff which, actually increase your energy levels throughout the day so that during the working week, you can be far more energetic and productive.
- It can help you identify areas for improvement.
Imagine you are consuming your 3 main meals per day but you seem to consistently find yourself hungry at certain points in the day. By listing the times that you consume these meals in a food diary over the course of a week, you might identify that there is actually a 6 hour window between the meals you consume which, now explains why you are always getting hungry 2 hours before your next meal. We now know that to ensure you continue to perform and function at your optimum level, you either need to eat your main meals closer together or fit in a snack between your meals as your body requires more energy in the form of calories which, we get from food. We now modify your routine so that you consume regular snacks twice a day, 3 hours before your next meal so that you no longer experience hunger symptoms throughout the day and are more efficient in the workplace.
- It can help you identify food intolerances.
If you write down the contents of your meal and how you are feeling pre meal such as “hunger”, and you know the portion size of the meal you ate was right for you but after eating the meal you write that you “feel bloated” or later on in the day, you are experiencing problems like indigestion, diarrhoea or in an extreme case vomiting and then a week later, you eat the same meal and the same symptoms occur, we can start to see a pattern occurring. These problems you experience can be narrowed to one of the food groups that you ate in that particular meal. At this point, it would be advisable to go to your GP or get in contact with Allergy Test UK to find out if you have an allergy to one of these particular food types such a gluten or shellfish, allowing you to avoid those in the future and prevent any future illness.
We hope you found this article useful and can use this advice to help you make better food choices to prevent energy dips, be healthy and look great.