A food diary is one of the best tools you can use in your weight loss or weight maintenance efforts. Unlike a gym membership or other pricey diet tools (like equipment and food), food diaries are inexpensive and often free. Consider starting your own food diary because of these benefits:
1. Food Diaries Are Accurate
Most of us aren’t consuming the amount of calories we think we are. In fact, most people are consuming more calories than they think! If you only rely on your memory for tracking what you eat, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. Sure, you ate a bowl of fruit for breakfast and a Lean Cuisine meal for lunch, but what about that handful of candy you ate mid-afternoon? The problem with relying solely on your memory for keeping track of calories and food intake is that it’s easy to leave out the little bites here and there. While a bite of something savory won’t kill you, the calories do count, and they add up! A food diary is useful because you write down every little bite. It helps you keep accurate track of your daily food intake.
2. Food Diaries Illustrate Progress
If you don’t keep a food diary, it’s hard to see how your diet changes have improved. If you write down your daily meals, you can clearly see when progress begins. For instance, if you swap your normal ham and cheese sandwich for a side salad and soup every day, four weeks later you might be able to attribute any weight loss partially to making the meal change. Food diaries reinforce positive changes you’ve made. You can also keep track of calorie intake with your food diary. Doing so is especially easy by using an online food diary like the ones offered on Fitday.com. Tracking your calories lets you see where you need to cut back.
3. Food Diaries Help You Make Changes
If you notice that you’ve gained weight or have been experiencing a weight loss plateau, a food diary is one of the most helpful tools to have on hand. You can go through it and review your diet. Have you been eating more calories than you’d originally planned? You can go through meal by meal and see what changes you should make. Perhaps you need to swap the daily cookie for a piece of fruit instead, or maybe you need to eat a larger breakfast to ward off a tempting mid-morning snack. Whatever the case, a food diary is the best form of reference you can have. Since adjusting your diet is the easiest way to lose weight, it makes sense to focus a good portion of your efforts on tracking your meals and calorie intake.
To begin a food diary, figure out what best fits into your lifestyle. Some people prefer the electronic versions you can access online while others prefer simply writing down daily meals in a notepad. Choose which method works best for you.