Using A Food Diary

Food & Exercise Diary by Why Weight Ireland

Are you wondering what a food diary is all about?

What if somebody told you that just by making one change in your habits, you could increase your weight loss? It may sound too good to be true, but it has been proven that the simple act of using a food diary can increase your weight loss and help with your long term maintenance.

How does writing down what you eat and drink in your Food Diary help you lose weight?

For one thing, keeping a food diary instantly increases your awareness of what, how much, and why you are eating. This helps you cut down on mindless munching.

Using a food diary can also help people identify areas where they can make changes that will help them lose weight, for example, people don’t realise how many calories they are obtaining from drinks and snacks, and these can be easy interventions that can ultimately help reduce your weight.

Using a food diary can unveil patterns of overeating. They can also reveal and identify triggers to avoid, such as not eating enough throughout the day and then overeating at night, or overeating when drinking alcohol, being upset, angry, comfort eating and more.

For some people, the very fact that they have to record every bite helps deter overeating.

Know Your Reasons

If you know what you hope to gain from using a food diary, you can make sure you’re recording the type of information that will help you in that area. Be clear about your intent, whether it’s to lose weight, maintain weight, become aware of hidden food triggers, notice problematic eating patterns or just make sure you’re eating a healthy diet. 

How Often to Update

Filling out your diary every day is best to achieve the best results.

You can fill out your food diary as you go throughout the day, or set some time aside at the end of the day to update it. I find it’s best to plan your food the night before if you know that your time will be limited. If using it on the go you should do it either right before eating or ideally right after eating. Important note is to record everything – even if that seems painful and with access to the Why Weight Ireland mobile App you really have no excuse.

It can be tempting to avoid recording an unplanned indulgent dessert or binge episode, but this is the most important time to record.  It’s only by seeing your calorie allowance Eat - Using A Food Diarygo over the limit will you be able to understand the reasons why. It’s also important to enter everything to show that you are eating enough food. When dieting or trying to lose weight, people tend to think that they need to reduce their calorie intake dramatically or starve themselves to be successful but the opposite is true. So many people fail at losing weight because they get encouraged by the initial weight loss which is usually just water and then the weight slows down or stops completely so the person gets annoyed and the diet goes down the drain! It is so important to make sure you are eating enough calories while at the same time making sure you aren’t eating too much.

Something to watch out for: As time goes on, dieters tend to become more lax about how often they update their food diaries and go longer after eating or drinking before logging the information; because it’s so easy! This ends up with people underestimating what they are eating and has shown that people that do not use their diary fully underestimate by as much as 25%. Also try to avoid “guesstimating” with portions. Always weigh and measure, what might look like your normal portion of rice or pasta might be more than you think! So always double check!

I received this email from one of my members which makes the above point more true.

“today is my first day back using the food diary in about 3 weeks, and boy did I put on weight, so it’s a fact that you think you are tracking in your head and that just doesnt work and I proved it. I’m feeling like crap with the extra weight and lack of confidence is also creeping in again with regards to my body, so I’m going to start emailing you again every week and fill out everything in the diary”

Since going back to the diary, she has continued to lose weight

Be Accurate About Portion Sizes

If you’re just trying to get a general idea of what, when, and why you are eating, this tip may not apply to you. But if you want to get a precise picture of your intake, make sure the amounts you record in your diary are as accurate as possible. Measuring out your portions will help give you a picture of what a normal serving size looks like. I would advise members to measure portions regularly.  It has just become second nature to me now and I know measuring made a massive difference to me as it was portion sizes that was one of my downfalls.  Just like the Chinese Take-Away meals, it is very easy to buy one and say, well I only ordered one, so it must be for one person, where in fact going on the correct portion sizes and calories, the meals are for two people. If you were baking a cake you would follow a recipe and weigh the ingredients, so why not do the same for the normal food you eat?

Include the ‘Extras’ that Add Up

The more thorough you are when recording what you eat — that handful of M&Ms at the office, the mayo on your sandwich, the extra butter on the toast – the more ways you’ll eventually find to cut those extra calories. When you look back over your food diary records, look for those nibbles and bites that can really add up. Did you know that 150 extra calories in a day (that could be one alcoholic drink or an extra bar of chocolate) could result in a 15 to 18 pound weight gain in one year?

Beware of Common Obstacles

Are you embarrassed or ashamed about your eating? Do you have a sense of hopelessness, feeling that it won’t help to fill out a food diary or that weight loss is impossible for you? Does it seem too inconvenient to put down what you eat/drink? DoWeight Loss Obstacles Using A Food Diary you feel bad when you “slip up”? These are the four most common obstacles to keeping a food diary.  What’s the cure? “All of these obstacles can be overcome by remembering the usefulness of the diaries, not trying to be perfect, acknowledging that slip-ups will happen, and staying motivated to use tools that promote health and well-being. I often hear from people say “Oh I don’t have time to diet” or “I don’t have time to fill in a diary” or even “my life is too busy”.  At the beginning it might feel like a lot of work but once you get the hang of it, it really does take a few seconds to enter in your food.  If you have more time you can add your own recipes in which in turn will make it quicker for you to add the meals in the future and let you create healthy, low calorie meals.

I can see the patterns showing those who use the diary all the time compared to those who use it partially and those who just use it every now and then.

Those who use the diary all the time are constantly losing weight, and more importantly CHANGING their habits compared to those who use the diary partially are either losing weight at a much slower rate or have stagnated – and even for these people, after they stagnate they go back to using the diary full time and the weight starts to come off again. Those who only use the diary now and then either do not lose weight or their weight increase – once they realise their weight is increasing and they go back to using the diary their weight begins to come down again.

If you really want to lose weight then I would advise you to use a food diary all the time and enter everything into it.  In the grand scheme of things, what are a few months of your life if it makes you happier and healthier and shows you how to eat better for your future and for your family?

The Why Weight Ireland food & exercise diary is Ireland’s only fully comprehensive food & exercise diary, it not only records your foods – but does all the hard work for you calculating the calories and fat and contains over 100,000 food products (including those from your favourite supermarkets Tesco, Aldi etc).  The use of a food diary is recommended by Safefoods, programmes likes Operation Transformation, Governments, Nutritionists, Dieticians and sports people around the world for losing and controlling weight.  Not only do Why Weight Ireland members receive access to the food and exercise diary, they will also receive a personal and tailored fitness plan based on their needs and abilities that they can follow to enhance their weight loss and will also get access to fantastic full online video workouts as well as full support via email to myself as well as getting access to our fantastic Facebook Community Page.  The success of Why Weight Ireland is down to the success of our members so if you are looking for successful weight loss then you have come to the right place. For those living in the South East, there is also our first Why Weight Ireland Local studio in Tinahely, Wicklow, which will give those who need that extra touch an even better chance to lose weight with having access to private weigh-ins, toning classes and personal one-to-one sessions and more.

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About Hannah Nolan

Wife & Mother to Two Beautiful Children | Founder & Owner of Why Weight Ireland® | Ambassador for Athletics Ireland | Columnist for the Irish Runner Magazine | Love Running
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