An important step in any weight management programs is understanding one’s eating habits and what triggers excessive eating. The food diary is an important tool in dietary self-awareness.
A typical food diary has an entry for every time something is eaten. It may include the following:
- the time of day;
- the time spent eating;
- the place where eating took place;
- any other activities done while eating;
- your mood at the time of eating;
- the food and amount eaten;
- and the level of hunger at the time.
A food diary may also include an estimate of the number of calories or other nutritional information on the food eaten. Food diaries serve two purposes.
One is to shed light on what kinds of foods are being eaten, how much and the nutritional value of the food.
And the other purpose is to help the eater understand more about his or her eating habits and the things that trigger eating, in order to develop a strategy for changing those habits and avoiding the triggers.
For instance, if a diary shows eating is triggered by boredom rather than hunger, this is a signal to develop other ways of relieving boredom. If extreme hunger is the trigger, smaller, more frequent meals and light, high fiber snacks might be the answer.
Keep your food diary for at least two weeks before making any changes in your diet. Then make an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss your food diary and what steps you can take to change your eating habits. A combination of sensible eating habits and regular exercise is far more effective than fad diets in taking weight off and keeping it off.