Why Should I Keep a Food Diary?

I can’t tell you the number of people who are resistant to keeping a food diary. Oh, the excuses I’ve heard. “It’s too hard.” “I’m too busy.” ” I forget.” “I don’t want to write something down after I’ve blown it.”  Sound familiar?

We need to turn around this negative mentality. Keeping a food journal is one of the most important tools you have to helping you manage your weight and health. And, it’s not hard to do.

First, a food journal can be any size. I keep a little spiral notebook – it’s easy to take with me and fits in any purse, briefcase, or backpack. Just find one that fits your needs. Bigger ones are good if you want to keep track of other daily happenings, like exercise, mood, and hunger scale.

Every little nibble counts. If you don’t know how many calories that bite of your child’s mac & cheese had, the general rule is 25 calories per random bite of food. Knowing that, just 4 bites over the day adds up to 100 calories. If you’re looking to trim 100-200 calories a day, start with those little tastes and nibbles. You’ll never miss them.

Second, record what you eat within 10 minutes of eating. Short-term memory is just that – short term. If you wait until the end of the day to record everything you’ve eaten, you will likely forget a good portion of what you had. Record what time you eat, what you eat, and the quantity of food.

Food diaries help you to see portion sizes, hunger patterns, emotional eating, and meal timing. You see your successes as well as your slip-ups. A food journal is a positive tool.


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