A food diary is one of the best ways of keeping yourself aware of how much you’re eating and figuring out where your weak spots are. It’s also a great tool for counting calories, food servings, and eventually leading to a diet plan that can help you lose weight. However, it’s not so helpful if you can’t figure out how to use your food diary! Learning how to sort out your food diary at the end of each day is easy and helps you reach your dieting goals faster.
How to Categorize the Food in Your Food Diary
Sorting your food into the categories set out in the food pyramid is a good starting point for breaking down your food diary at the end of a day. Keep headings for grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat and fats/sweets. List each food under the heading it best fits. Each category has a number of servings you should be trying to reach on a daily basis, and sorting the foods out will immediately show you where you are faltering. If, for example, you are consistently missing your recommended vegetable servings, you can immediately start incorporating more vegetables into your daily diet. This simple step can help improve your health and shift your caloric intake into better food groups, leading to faster and more sustainable weight loss.
Using Your Food Diary to Count Calories and Nutrients
Now that you’ve sorted your food into categories, it’s time to look at the hard numbers. If the food is fresh, use a calorie-counting guide to help you figure out how many calories you ate. If the food was prepackaged, use the side of the package—it will be more accurate than trying to find a generic listing for the food in a book. Be sure to do your calculations correctly—you should have measured your food to know how many servings you ate. The total amount of calories will show you whether or not you are hitting your recommended daily caloric intake. In the event that you are eating more than you need, you can look at the food group breakdown of your food to figure out where you need to cut back.
You should also take a look at how much sugar, fat and carbohydrates you are eating. Sugar and other carbohydrates can lead to increased weight gain and sluggishness, and too much saturated or trans fat works against your weight loss. If you are trying to restrict your sodium intake, you may also wish to see if you are meeting, not meeting or exceeding your recommended sodium intake. These numbers will give you a clear black-and-white picture of where you need to improve and where you are succeeding with your dieting goals.
Once you break down the food and numbers in your food diary, it’s easy to get your eating to where you want it to be! You can eat more healthily, set caloric intake limits, and plan your meals more effectively. Keep using your food diary and you will be able to reach dieting success.