How keeping a food diary can help you lose weight
The saying goes, “you are what you eat”. That might be quite a scary thought for some of you and it is one of the reasons that I think keeping a food diary can be so useful.
It is easy to eat something we know we shouldn’t and then pretend it never happened. Once it’s gone who is to know that it was even there?! Apart from you of course, who after eating that family-size bag of crisps is now suffering from the all too familiar guilt trip that comes with these moments of food weakness.
Now I am not suggesting that keeping a food diary is the magic cure to the snack attacks, but I do think that it can help you if you are trying to get yourself on the straight and narrow with your eating (a few bumps in the road will always be unavoidable, but that’s ok!).
So what is a food diary anyway? It’s nothing fancy. It could be a piece of paper, a Word document or an app on your phone; but crucially it is a detailed list of everything and I mean EVERYTHING that you consume over the course of the day. From the moment you wake, to the time you go to bed, everything that you eat and drink is logged. You do this for anywhere between 3 and 7 days.
Why? Well there are a number of reasons.
Firstly, it can make you more aware of what you are eating which makes it easier to try and get any bad habits under control. It is easy to eat a biscuit in an office meeting without really realising you are doing it, or eat a few things off the kids’ plates that they have not finished. On a Friday night, we can lose track of how many wines we have had and at the end of the weekend it’s easy to say that you will wipe the slate clean and start afresh on Monday. If you don’t know what you have eaten, then it’s difficult to make any positive changes next time around. Writing down what you eat and drink is an eye opener for many people as for the first time, it is all there in front of you; no escape. It might make you start thinking about everything you are eating and why you might not be getting the weight loss or toning results that you really want.
From here you can start doing something about those habits that before you were not even aware of. Many women I work with are prone to late night snacking, or an afternoon biscuit with their cup of tea. It might not be something you even know you are doing, but seeing it in black and white can help you understand your habits and makes it easier to start changing them if you want to. Maybe it is swapping the biscuit for a piece of fruit, or making sure you are keeping busy (exercising?!) when the late night sugar cravings usually strike.
Finally, it means people like me can get a really good understanding of how you eat and why. I ask my clients to write down the location of each meal e.g. at home, sitting at their desk, eating on the go...Also how they are feeling, as feeling sad, tired, emotional, stressed etc. often has a huge impact on what we eat. It also helps me explain to clients what is maybe going wrong in their diet and why they are not seeing the results they want.
I often start with new clients who tell me that they “eat well”. I will get the food diary back only to be faced with a wall of carbs each day (most common food habit), too little water, missing meals and enough caffeine to keep an army awake. If I don’t have this information I don’t have the full picture of your fitness and I can’t work with you effectively to help you achieve your fitness goals. That is frustrating for me as I always want every client I take on to succeed and even more frustrating for you when you are not getting the results that you want and we don’t know why.
Keeping a food diary may seem like a faff, but you only need do it once to understand your food habits and then you can always do it again to keep good habits in check and of course you can do it continuously if you find that works for you.
If you have any questions, or want to know more about keeping a food diary then join my Female Fitness Group on Facebook or sign up to my 6 week online Total Body Tone Programme; new group starting 8th October 2018.