A diary that helps you record the daily food consumed by you at any time is named a food diary.
You can write down all the details about the snacks you take along with the other meals consumed by you in a day. In this way, you can deduce whether your diet is good for your health or not.
When you look at the listed things, you know when you took food, what you ate at a specific time, how much food you ate, and how you were feeling while having your meal. Once you recognize all these factors, you can change your eating habits if they are not going in the right direction.
A food diary can be helpful for you in various ways. For example:
- You can identify your eating habits.
- You can differentiate the good meals from those which are not good for your health.
- Your eating patterns can also be identified with the help of a food diary.
If you are becoming overweight and want to lose weight, then a food diary can be very effective. In addition, if you are consulting any dietician, your food diary will also assist your consultant in suggesting you an appropriate diet plan. It may seem like a time-consuming process to write down all the things consumed by you in a day, but when it becomes your routine practice, it will not take much longer.
How to Write a Productive Food Diary
It can be confusing for you to write about all the meals consumed by you in a day. Simply take some pages and get them bound together so that it will look like a diary. You can keep this diary in your room near your bed and can also carry it along with you while going out. Record all the food items consumed in a day under their respective categories in your food diary.
Some of the essential categories and items that should be mentioned in a food diary have been discussed below:
Food and beverage
You should mention the name of specific food eaten by you and the beverage taken along with your meal. You should also write if you have taken any soft drinks. Describe the nature of food, whether it was baked, cooked, or fried, etc.
The extra things such as salad, dressing, topping, sauce, etc., served with your meal should also be noted down to record the nutrients and calories as well. Any snack such as tea, juice, fast food, dessert, etc., consumed by you between the two meal times should also be written down in your food diary.
Note: Do not leave to write down all the information at the end of your day because you might skip anything taken during snack time or mealtime.
Amount of food
It is important to mention the amount of food and drink taken by you in your food diary. It would be easy for you to write it in household measures such as 2 tablespoons, 5 teaspoons, 3 cups, 1 glass, 1 plate, etc. You can also get your food weighed if you are recording all the details for having a diet plan but weighing food is not possible while eating in any restaurant or café. You can make a rough estimate in that case.
Note: It might not be possible for you to write all the details while having a meal because you may be so hungry that you forget to list down what you are eating. You can get it written down after finishing your food.
You should carefully monitor and write down the time of day when you eat or drink something. Then, when you look at your food diary after some days or after a week, you can identify the wrong times of having any meal or a snack and then try to avoid having anything to eat at that specific time.
You should record the details of the place where you have something to eat or drink. It can be either place; your room, kitchen, dining table, sofa, etc. On the other hand, if you had your meal outside, then mention the name of the cafe or restaurant where you went. It is a matter of fact that most people do not sit specifically at the dining table while eating something.
So the habit of mentioning the place where you had your meal will help you identify your habits, and then you can also recognize the reason for doing so. For example, it may be your habit not to eat food at the appropriate time. The proper time to take a meal is when all the family members eat food together at the dining table. This way, you can get help to change your habit.
While listing the type and amount of food you took, you should also mention the person you ate food with in your diary. It can be anyone; your parents, siblings, spouse, friend, colleague, etc. You might have the food alone. This will help you identify the amount of food eaten by you in different scenarios. For example,
- If you have your meal with your parents, they will urge you to eat properly. In that case, you will eat in a healthy manner.
- If you are eating with your friends or colleagues, there are more chances of having unhealthy and junk foods.
- On the other hand, if you are eating alone, you will prefer fast food to eat. If you are eating homemade food, then you will not eat it in appropriate amount.
You may not sit idly while eating food. Some people have the habit of eating food while sitting in front of the T.V. Some people also like to eat snacks while playing a game. Some prefer to have a cup of tea or juice during their work. Different activities may have varied impacts on your diet.
For example, it is not healthy to eat food while watching T.V. because you cannot properly check the amount of food being consumed by you as your focus is divided into two distinct things. You can also have a talk over a phone call with your friend or any colleague. You should mention all such activities in which you were engaged while eating.
Your feelings, such as being happy, sad, stressed, bored, anxious, tired, etc., can have a significant impact on your mood. You can also decide what to eat based on your persistent mood at that specific time.
For example, you may want to eat something delicious when you are getting bored or have been tired and do not want to cook anything. So, you will go with ordering fast food for yourself.
On the other hand, you might not want to eat anything if you are sad or stressed about any trouble in your life or business, etc. Such things may seem to be of minor importance, but they greatly impact your decisions about what to eat.
Missing things in the meal
You should critically examine the components of your food. It will help you have a balanced diet that will contain the proper amount of nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fibers, vitamins, calcium etc which are required for your growth and are healthy for your body and mind. Also, they will nourish your body in a healthy way. So you should note down those things which are taken in small amounts by you.
Food diary templates are good for those who do not want to make one by themselves. These are ideal for keeping a record of everything you eat while having your meal or snacks. Different customized templates are available online, which can also be downloaded from the website easily.
Customized templates with different time duration are available, such as weekly and monthly food diaries. You can get any food diary template that suits your routine best and edit it to list all the essential and required information.
How to Make Your Diet Effective
Your food diary will help you trace out your bad habits to try to change them by setting goals that will help you develop healthy habits. Make sure that your goals are SMART as:
For example, if you note that you eat fewer vegetables than you should, set your goal to have vegetables daily in your meal. You should be determined to eat more homemade food if you have eaten fast food more often. Try to set the goal of eating healthy snacks such as fruits or nuts when you crave snacks in the mid of your work rather than eating junk food.
When you determine to achieve all the health goals, you will see a visible progressive change in your eating habits day by day. But, of course, you can do this only by self-determination!
How to Keep a Successful Food Diary
If you want to get any profitable benefit out of your food diary, you should consider the following tips so that your food diary may not be left just as a diary, and you get nothing good from this practice:
Note down immediately
You should try to note down the details at the spot because leaving to record the details at the end of day is not a good idea as some of the details may get skipped out of your mind so you should prefer writing it either before or immediately after eating your food.
List the details actually as they are. For example, if you have eaten fried chicken, write it exactly like this and not just chicken. It will help you keep the exact record of all the nutrients and calories consumed by you during a particular meal time.
Write down everything
You should make sure that all the small things included in your meal are also mentioned. Even if some things seem to be of little importance to you, you should write down them also. Because they may contain more calories than expected by us, it can only be recorded with the help of a dietician.
You can make a rough estimate about the amount of food. For this purpose, you should record the amount in simple terms which can be easily understood by you. You can set a standard according to your convenience so that you can compare the amount of food every time with this standard.
Use an app for calories and nutrients
It is not possible for everyone to consult a dietician for tracing the number of nutrients and calories being consumed by them in their daily food. It might not be easy for you to calculate the exact amount of nutrients contained in your food. To deal with this situation, you can use different applications available online which have been specifically designed for estimating the composition of any kind of food; such apps can be helpful for you if you want to switch towards a diet plan also.
You should mention each and every detail accurately. In this regard, you will have to be honest with yourself while writing down all the information in your food diary because without being honest, you will not be able to achieve the desired goals you want to achieve regarding you eating habits and routines.
P.S: At least do not lie to yourself! Because you will be the only person who will have this food diary with you. So, list everything correctly.
Having a food diary can help you in many ways. You can also visualize whether you are making any progress towards achieving your goals or not, along with keeping a record of all information related to the food you eat.
A food diary can help you recognize your good habits i.e; taking three meals in a day, eating, healthy things, and having food at the appropriate time etc. You can also trace your bad habits such as eating unhealthy things, having food at wrong time such as eating junk food late at night, drinking lots of soft drinks etc.
You can share the details mentioned in your food diary with your dietitian, and they can suggest you a diet plan accordingly. Some people may prefer to have this information for a short period, while others may record this data for a long term to maintain their weight. With the help of your food diary, the habit of eating food at your appropriate mealtime will also be developed in you.
It will help if you are self-determined to use the information enlisted in your food diary in a positive way. It will ultimately give you beneficial outcomes, which will act as a source of inspiration by which you will get encouraged to maintain your healthy lifestyle. Therefore, keep a productive food diary to eat the right things at the right time!