There's Power in Your Food Diary
September 05, 2015
Most people view keeping a food diary as a chore—but it’s a powerful weight control tool. Keeping a good diary is similar to keeping a budget. In both cases, you need to stay within an allowance and deal with people, places, moods, and desires that may influence how you indulge. With a diary however, you are dealing with food instead of money. Food diaries can help you see:
- When you are eating.
- Where you are eating.
- What you are doing while eating.
- With whom you were eating.
- How you were feeling before you ate.
- How hungry you were.
- What types of foods did you eat?
- If you have any specific cravings.
In the long run, a food diary can help you improve your food management skills!!!
Try some of the other suggestions:
The timing of your eating:
- Unless snacking leads to uncontrolled eating, try to go no more than 4-5 hours with having something to eat. This will prevent you from getting overly hungry. In fact, having several small meals (within your caloric allowance) is a much healthier eating pattern than eating fewer, larger meals.
- Try to eat slowly. As a rule, the longer it takes you to eat, the better, because the signal in your brain which lets you know that you are full takes about 20 minutes to kick in. Keep in mind that this rule only applies if you stop eating when you start to feel full.
- Aim for a fairly consistent eating schedule. This makes it easier to plan what and how much you eat. It also prevents you from feeling that you need to “stock up” now, since you can’t count on when you may eat again.
- Avoid skipping meals. It is not an effective way to cut calories, and only tends to make you hungrier. Skipping meals usually leads to overeating later in the day.
- Try to eat more of your food earlier in the day—a time when you’re moving around and burning more calories.
Where you eat and the position you are in:
- Since you have less of a say about what choices are available and how foods are prepared when you eat away from home, be sure to select places that offer healthful selections and/or will accommodate special requests.
- Try to sit when you eat. Sitting is preferred to standing or reclining because when you sit down to eat, you acknowledge that you are eating and these calories do count. Frequently, when we eat “on the run”, we don’t consider this a true meal, with foods that do contribute to calories.
- Try to eat at the kitchen or dining room table instead of in other areas of your home. There tend to be more distractions in these other areas, and distractions can lead to overeating.
What you do while eating:
- Find a strategy that prevents you from nibbling when preparing meals and when putting food away after meals. You may want to try: having a pre-selected calorie-wise snack before preparing your meal; preparing your meal a little earlier (when you are less hungry); and/or having someone else help you clear the table.
- Focus on what you’re eating when you are eating it. Avoid doing other things while eating. It’s easy to get caught up in another activity and lose track of how much you’re eating. If you repeat the pattern often enough, the activity can become closely associated with food and trigger you to eat, even when you’re not hungry.
Whom you are with:
- If you eat less in front of others, it may be because you’re embarrassed by how much or the types of foods you eat. If this is too challenging for you to handle on your own, seek a qualified health professional with whom you can discuss this matter.
- If you heat more in front of others, it may be because you’re not thinking about how much you’re eating in social situations. You need to find out why you are overeating in these situations so that you can help develop a strategy to change this pattern.
- Continue to seek support from people who have a positive influence on your eating habits. Work with them to plan your weight-control strategies. To show how much you appreciate their efforts, be sure to thank them whenever they help you.
- Negotiate with people who have a negative influence on your eating habits. Try to understand the situation from their point of view. Suggest constructive alternatives, or ask specifically for what you want. Share your goals and feelings in a pleasant, non-aggressive way.
Your mood before eating:
- Recognize how your emotions and feelings contribute to your eating pattern. Once you do so, you can come up with some alternative activities to satisfy these emotional needs without food. If you find you can’t handle this area on your own, you may benefit from some professional counseling.
The role of hunger in your eating:
- Pay attention to your hunger signals. Many of us get so used to eating at specific times, or with certain people and activities that we don’t take into account whether or not we are hungry. If you’re in a situation where you feel you need to have something, but are not hungry, try a non-caloric beverage.
- Try to satisfy a craving by enjoying a sliver or small bite of the desired food, rather than denying yourself totally. When we deny ourselves, we usually wind up eating ev