When it comes to losing weight and building healthy food habits, we here at BaDoink know just how hard it can get. So when we find something that works, we keep at it – or we try to. One thing that we found to work really well is keeping a food diary. After reading research on how keeping a food diary made participants lose twice the amount of weight, I was sold. I started off with a regular notebook and then moved to using an app (you can read about some of my fitness app reviews on BaDoink).
So what’s this food diary business?
It is simple really. Just jot down everything you eat. Some people use pen and paper, some people use an app or some people use fitness websites like SparkPeople. For a long time I used a plain notebook to jot down my food but I now use the MyFitnessPal app because it helps me also break down what I eat and give me useful reports so I know just what (and how much) I am putting into my body.
It’s not just about the calories
I’ve mentioned before I’m not a huge calorie counter, and keeping a food diary isn’t just about counting calories. It’s also about putting the responsibility of what you eat back in your own hands and taking charge of your life. Wow. Sounds like big words for a mere food diary, eh? But hear me out.
Writing down what you eat forces us to take responsibility for what we eat. When you see everything you’re putting into your body written out you can no longer feign ignorance. It is empowering.
Patterns give us insights
One thing I noticed for me was that my ‘just a small piece of chocolate and glass of wine’ wasn’t really a small piece of chocolate and glass of wine. In fact just that alone was adding an extra 420 calories to my diet. That’s for two glasses of red wine and a few pieces of chocolate. However, before writing it down it really didn’t seem like a big deal and I wondered why I wasn’t losing weight as quickly even though I was working out. Writing things down allows you to see patterns that your memory alone doesn’t register. Who knows what you absentmindedly eat that also adds calories? Perhaps you munch on little sweets or you drink a can of coke a day and that doesn’t seem like much but it is adding calories to your diet. In fact according to the amazing book Mindless Eating by Dr Brian Wansink, adding an extra 200 to 300 calories a day to your diet could mean an extra 20 to 30 pounds of added weight a year!
The power is with you
Finally, a food diary allows you to see how many calories you’re putting inside you and thus adjust accordingly by eating a little less or exercising more. It allows you to decide what foods to put in your body. And it really gives meaning to the phrase ‘empty calories’ because now you want to eat food that nourishes you the most so that you’re not ‘wasting’ your calories on foods that might taste nice like junk food but don’t actually do anything for you.
I hope that this article will encourage you to keep a food diary and if you do, let me know how it goes!