Keeping a Diet Diary
Keeping a Diet Diary
This is simple but very effective tool for finding problem spots or deficiencies in your eating habits.
For two weeks, keep a record of everything that you eat. This is actually a difficult thing to do for several reasons. First, it is not fun and can be tedious. Also, besides being inconvenient, it can be disheartening. Knowing that your self control is not what you thought it was can painful. However, this is not the point of the exercise. It is supposed to be an aid to help you find and eliminate anything in your diet that is hindering your overall health and your ability to control your weight. Also, the idea is not to put yourself on a dietary 'budget' of some kind. What you are trying to accomplish by doing this is to see what it is that you are actually consuming regularly; what your eating and snacking habits really are.
Write done everything that you eat including the type of food and the quantity. . Since you will only be doing this for ten to fourteen days, it is a temporary exercise so be thorough. Everything counts. Even one lonely lump of sugar should be an entry in your diary. Also, it is helpful to keep the information in a tabular or spreadsheet format. You do not really have to add up the calorie totals every day. What you are looking for are obvious (and sometimes even glaring) eating habits that you might not even know you have.
For example, if you grab a few M&Ms from a co-worker’s cube three or four times a day or add few shots of latte’ syrup to your coffee each morning, it may seem unimportant, but that could be adding up to two hundred calories or more every day that you do not need and that are holding you back from getting the results that you would like. What you looking for ultimately is a pattern to your eating where you are taking in unneeded sugar and fat that is slowing your dietary progress down. These should be red flags for you; unhealthy things you should specifically be looking to eliminate from your diet.
Many people have found that just by avoiding these unhealthy 'innocent' foods they have been able to push past a weight plateau. Also, once you have developed new eating habits, it is helpful to start a new diary every few months to help you find new undesirable habits or simply to reaffirm that you are in fact eating a healthy diet. To help you remember to do it, write it down on your calendar.
Remember, a habit can be either a good or an unhelpful thing. When trying to get rid of a bad habit, you must first be aware of it. Writing something down gives it weight and makes it real. Just by doing that alone you may empower yourself to not have a snack or a second helping just because you do not want to write it down. If you approach this attitude correctly, soon you will find that you can and will avoid dietary temptation without the act of having to write it down simply because you will know in your mind that what you eat is real whether it is in a diary or not. This will put you further along on your path to controlling your life for the better.
It all starts with awareness of your actions both good and bad.
About the Author: Thomas Tribble is an ex-martial arts instructor, now a professional and Dallasite native.