People pursue healthy eating for various reasons, such as weight loss or other general health concerns. Today, one of the best ways to achieve healthy eating is by keeping a food diary.
Over the years, studies on the efficacy of self-monitoring for weight loss found it as a practical behavioral approach for weight management among adults with obesity.
Today, newer digital technologies have led to more effective self-monitoring technologies. These help decrease the time and effort required to self-monitor one’s weight, dietary intake, and physical activity daily.
But how does a food diary — whether pen-and-paper or digital — help boost weight loss?
In this post, we’ll look at what a food diary is and some benefits of keeping one for your weight loss journey.
What Is A Food Diary?
A food diary is a daily log of what you eat and drink. Some people maintain a food diary to help with consultations so their doctors can more easily understand their eating habits and how these affect their health.
As mentioned in our introduction, others keep a diary to stick to healthier eating habits for weight loss or weight management purposes.
While everyone’s food diary will vary from each other, some of the common criteria to track daily include:
- How much was eaten;
- What kind of food was eaten;
- What time of day you ate;
- And how you felt while eating.
The Benefits Of Keeping A Food Diary
Below, we’ll explore how tracking your dietary habits using a food diary helps boost weight loss:
1. Keeping You Motivated
By fostering the habit of tracking your food daily, you can get an overview of your progress as you go. This can help facilitate sustainable, long-lasting weight change.
Keeping a food diary is a great and practical way to maintain motivation for weight loss.
Researchers found that obese women who consistently and frequently tracked their food intake were more likely to have long-term success in managing their weight.
Tracking and seeing your progress makes you more likely to stay motivated and stick to your new, healthier routine.
As mentioned above, there are different ways to keep a food diary today.
Remember that what works for others may not work as efficiently for you.
So you should experiment with a pen-and-paper log and digital tracking methods such as smartphone apps or a Google sheet to determine which way works for you. You can also spice up your food diary with illustrations or food pics.
2. Staying Slow And Steady
In a past post about losing weight in a month, we emphasized the importance of keeping realistic weight loss goals.
Instead of following fad diets that promise instant, miracle results, pacing yourself through your weight loss journey is more effective.
Using a food diary, you can visually see your progress, including all the small changes your healthier eating habits may have on your body. These smaller changes are more beneficial for sustainable weight loss.
Losing weight gradually can help your body keep its muscle mass intact while losing fat.
To help you stay slow and steady in your weight loss journey, reducing your calorie intake by a reasonable and realistic amount is recommended.
Our post recommended reducing your calorie intake by about 500 to 1,000 calories daily, depending on your target weight. This translates to about one to two pounds of weight a week if you aim to lose weight in a month.
3. Eliminate Mindless Eating
Finally, a benefit of keeping a food diary is it can help eliminate mindless eating.
Mindless eating varies across people, but some common forms include emotional eating and distraction eating, which is when you eat as a distraction from doing something, such as watching Netflix.
On the contrary, mindful eating helps you become more aware and intentional about your eating habits. This includes increased awareness about when, where, what, and how you eat.
To cultivate mindful eating, look at anomalies in your food diary entries, such as the days you may feel negative about. Look at the food you eat on those days, and try to understand why it may have made you feel bad.
Similarly, pay attention to with whom and where you eat when you feel positive to continue and sustain your healthy eating habits.
In conclusion, keeping a food diary can be a helpful and effective way to boost your weight loss journey.
By tracking your food intake daily, you can stay motivated, pace yourself, and eliminate mindless eating. You can also become more mindful and aware of your eating habits and how they affect your health and well-being.
A food diary can be a simple pen-and-paper log or a digital app or spreadsheet. The important thing is to find a method that works for you and stick to it.
By doing so, you can achieve your weight loss goals and enjoy the benefits of healthy eating.