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Dear Food Diary

One reason we battle to beat the scale is that we don’t keep proper track of everything we eat. Another problem is that we go off track sometimes, but we don’t always know when or why. Capturing everything we eat, when we eat and how we felt at the time can be very useful in identifying patterns and spotting potential pitfalls.

 

Three days and counting
Keep a food diary for at least three consecutive days, one of which should be a weekday. That should be enough for you to start identifying patterns that may be sabotaging your efforts to trim down.

 

How do I start a food diary?
Use a phone app or a good old notebook to simply jot down everything you eat and drink during the day. Add as many extra details as you want – it could give you more insight into your eating habits.
Try and include:

  • Portion sizes and calories
  • Your “danger zones” (like snacking while watching TV)
  • Reasons for eating (besides real hunger), like emotions or stress
  • Cravings (Do you crave sweet things after dinner every night?)
  • How you feel before and after you ate something. (Do you eat when you’re stressed or nervous?)

Regularly reviewing the information you record will help you understand what’s helpful to you and what can be left out.

More food journal tips

1. Use it to plan ‘cheat meals’ or special events
Before starting your day, decide if there will be any challenges to your diet, for instance a birthday party or a work function. Then, plan to have healthy meals for the rest of the day. By filling up on healthy, balanced meals, you’ll be less tempted to succumb to high-calorie snacks and treats when you go out. Another option is to ‘save’ your carbs throughout the day for an occasion where you know you’ll be likely to indulge in high-carb fare.


2. Keep track of meals and snacks
Eating small, regular meals is a good way to help you feel energetic and manage cravings. Use your food journal to find out what works for you. On a day where you only have time for three meals or less, note whether you had more cravings, energy slumps or hunger pangs. Similarly, if you find yourself binge eating, consult your food journal to see possible causes, such as skipped meals.


3. Identify reactions to food
Use your food journal to identify any foods that cause discomfort after eating. For example, if you suffer from some type of food intolerance, keeping a food journal will help you identify the culprit(s).

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