The Power of the Food Diary

If you want to lose weight, gain weight or improve your nutrition the most important thing you must do it keep a food diary. This is a crucial step to making changes.  If you are not willing to do so, it usually means you are not ready to change.  Many studies have shown that it’s hard to lose weight without keeping a food diary.

The food diary makes you accountable. It allows you to see your weaknesses. The diary will open up your eyes to things you may not even have noticed you were doing!  Most people think they eat a lot less than they do, but if you keep an accurate list of everything you eat, you may be surprised!  Count the milk in your coffee, the hard candy you ate in the afternoon, the few bites of your spouse’s or child’s dinner plate.  All of these small bites actually count!

Here are some ways to make the food diary work for you:

  1. Decide what will be the most convenient way for you to keep it: small notebook, word/excel file, online program, or cell phone program.  Think what you will have access to all of the time.
  2. Some excuses I hear are “I left the notebook at home so I forgot to write in it.”  “I like recording on the computer but I use a different computer at work and at home.”  “I keep forgetting and I go back and try to remember the last few days.”
  3. If you are a computer person, an online program might be right for you.  I really like the free site Fit Day.
  4. If you love your I Phone or Blackberry find a program (they each have) that allows you to enter in the food you eat daily.
  5. If you prefer the hard copy, buy a small notebook that will fit in your purse or pocket (if you’re a guy) so that you have it on you at all times.

The power is in you!  So if you are committed to making changes you have to be committed to keeping a food journal.  Honesty is key!  No one but yourself will suffer if you leave out crucial things, or if you skip the “bad” days.  Remember there’s no such thing as “bad” foods and “good” foods.  Yes some are more nutritious than others and some you should eat more often – but there’s room for everything!

So start your journal today!  And remember there’s no better time than now with the holidays approaching.

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3 Responses

  1. Fitday was the first online program I used to count calories. I think Sparkpeople is a little more user friendly and has other great extras that are helpful (different groups you can join, challenges, etc.). I switched to it after about a year on Fitday and loved all those extras (it’s also free!). I think calorie counting was the best thing for me to lose weight. I stopped since but I feel like I’m so much more aware of calories that it’s second nature to make healthier choices more often than not 🙂

  2. I used Fitday too….I use it for a week or two, then stop, then start again. I’ve trying a mini journal too but I have trouble sticking to it. I’m getting a BlackBerry so my next step is a calorie counting application. I’d like to lose 5 pounds so maybe I’m not motivated enough to count calories but when I do, I feel accountable. I envy those who can stick to it.

  3. I’m so glad to see you say there’s no such thing as good and bad foods. What keeps me reading you is that you understand that I can’t be healthy all of the time, and I don’t want to be made to feel bad about it.

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