So, what is a food diary anyway?
A food diary is a record of all the food and drink you have over the day. Your food diary can be in the form of a note book or you might like to use your phone or online software to record what you’re eating and drinking. An idea I like to suggest to clients who would like to keep a food diary is getting an exercise book and decorating it with things that inspire you – it might be your favourite singer, TV star, family, friends, quotes – anything at all. Something to make it yours. Something that will motivate you whenever you see it.
What should you record in a food diary?
Three things are probably the most important when it comes to food diaries.
- Everything you eat. Write it in as much detail as you can and include the amount you had.
- Everything you drink – water, coffee, juice, soft drinks, anything. Again, try to record the amounts of have.
- The time you ate what you ate and drank what you drank.
It can also be beneficial to record things like how you felt before and after you ate your meal or snack.
What is the point of a food diary?
A lot of people really hate keeping a food diary. It might not be something you have to do forever but there are a few reasons why we think can a good idea for many people when they’re first starting to try to improve their eating habits.
- It helps you keep track of what you might be able to improve on and things you might be missing
- It makes you more aware of your portion sizes
- It makes you more aware in general of your eating habits
Overall, I recommend moving away from thinking constantly about everything we eat. Instead, I prefer a more ‘mindful eating’ approach where we’re starting to listen more and more to our body’s cues for hunger and fullness and eating according to what would really satisfy us.
Food diaries do have their place, I think, if used in a sensible way. Not to punish ourselves but to better understand our patterns of behaviour and decide on more sustainable, manageable ways forward where we feel they are necessary.