We’re pretty sure you’ve been down that rocky road of dieting and chances are, you’ve gone off track more times you’d like to admit. You shouldn’t feel embarrassed at the fact that you might have gone astray while trying to follow a healthy regime – we’ve all been there and done that.
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We’re pretty sure you’ve been down that rocky road of dieting and chances are, you’ve gone off track more times you’d like to admit. You shouldn’t feel embarrassed at the fact that you might have gone astray while trying to follow a healthy regime – we’ve all been there and done that. An effective way to keep track of your eating habits is by taking note of what you’re consuming on a daily basis.
A food diary keeps you in check and supports you by giving an accurate outline of what you eat on a daily basis. Moreover, it allows you to gain more control over your diet, giving you some insight into what you're eating and how it affects your health and lifestyle. By adapting this system and jotting down a few notes about your diet, you may be surprised at what you learn.
1. Track what you consume
Calorie consumption does not necessarily imply items you consume in food alone. Remember various beverages have a considerable amount of empty calories, sometimes adding up to a rather shocking amount. Track what you eat and drink by buying a notebook or if you’re always on the go, just download a food journal app on your smartphone. To make it more effective, take note of the date, time, place, food item and quantity consumed.
By recording everything you eat and drink, you’re more likely to create an accurate food journal which will prove to be more helpful in the long run. Be sure to include all meals, drinks and even snacks you might nibble on throughout the day. Detail everything into your journal, breaking down any complicated foods by each ingredient. This will help you remember what’s in your food and perhaps allow you to calculate the approximate calorific value. Remember to consume around 2 litres of water per day, it’s not good to wait until you’re feeling parched to hydrate your body. If you’re not too fond of water, try mixing it up with a delicious and creamy protein shake such as Protein 17’s whey protein powder.
Whether you’re trying to lose or gain weight, it’s good to keep an eye on calorific intake, and keeping tabs on this by writing down accurate quantities is helpful. It’s also useful to buy a food scale and measuring cups to make sure quantities are precise. Before making any drastic changes, start by measuring the food you’d usually eat on a regular day. If you see that portions are too big or small, make any necessary adjustments. Going out to eat can be somewhat of a challenge, mainly because not all places serve the same food sizes. If you’re dining out at a chain restaurant you can normally check out online and can find out the nutritional value of each portion size.
2. Analysing your journal
Observe any patterns in your eating habits. Once you’ve been keeping track of your diet, you’ll probably see some patterns emerging. While certain patterns will be noticeable, others might be a bit more informative. You must ask the following questions to be better able to constructively analyse food consumption:
- Does your mood affect certain eating patterns?
- Which foods leave you hungry?
- Which foods are more satisfying than others?
- Are there any situations in which you tend to overeat?
Another important factor to include in your diary is the number of snacks eaten. It’s very easy to forget or underestimate the number of calories a cereal bar (no matter how natural and healthy it is) can have. A handful of nuts here and a couple of biscuits there while watching your favourite series, can really accumulate in number of calories consumed. Use your diary to evaluate whether or not your snacking habits are healthy or might need some improvement.
When you’re on the go and don’t have time to prepare fresh food every time you need to snack, think ahead and pack snacks along before heading off to work or running your daily errands. If you’re stuck on ideas as to what to have as a wholesome snack, you can even opt for a whey protein meal replacement from Protein 17 once a day. Apart from being nutritious and delicious, it’s an organic product that’s free from artificial ingredients.
Compare your weekdays and weekends: for many people, work and school have a huge effect on their eating habits. You might find it challenging to make time for preparing food on work days, so spend more time in the kitchen on your days off. Use information to help you plan out your meals and make sure you have your fridge stocked up with healthy wholesome stuff. If you know you’re not in the mood to cook on certain days, planning ahead is key, to help you keep yourself on track.
3. Track any additional Helpful Details
Apart from dietary information, you should also record any physical activity in your food journal, especially if you’re keeping your food diary as a way to track calories and stay fit. It would make a lot of sense to jot down any physical activity done. To keep it balanced and doable, exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, apart from releasing the feel-good endorphins, exercising regularly will boost your energy and get your metabolism shooting up.
Take note of the type of activity you’ve engaged in and the duration you spent doing it. If possible, add about how many calories you think you may have burnt, that way your diary will be a source of both energy input and output. Take note of how your level of exercise affects your hunger pangs, and what you eat when you crave food. Be attentive as to whether you’ve noticed increased hunger overall, or whether your feel particularly hungry post workout. For further guidance on what exercise regime suits you, be sure to seek advice from a certified personal trainer.
4. Record Nutritional Information
In order to do this safely and in an informed manner, the best thing to do is seek professional advice from a qualified nutritionist; that way reading food labels will be done in a more knowledgeable manner. If you’re keeping a food diary, making sure you’re getting a balanced diet that includes all of the essential nutrients is vital. Although nowadays nutritional information is easily accessible on food packaging and websites, it’s always ideal to consult a competent person who will not only advise you on being mindful in your eating habits, but also help you customise a regime that suits your lifestyle. For a well-balanced and easy–to-prepare, light meal, why not sip on a tasty protein shake?
5. Track your Progress
If you’re working towards a goal, a food diary can be a motivating tool when you have a target to reach. Whether it’s for weight loss, toning up, body building or simply trying to incorporate more fruit and vegetables into your diet, keeping track of your improvements will be a morale boost and help keep you going. Here are some ways you can keep yourself in check:
- Record your weight: this can be done at the end of each week
- Highlight important milestones: there’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a pat on the back
- Record how much exercise you can perform: know where your limitations are and whether or not you’re able to overcome any obstacles in due time. Remember however, the key is to increase intensity gradually, because you don’t want to overexert yourself.
Apart from making you feel more positively self-conscious about your choices, you will gradually become more aware when it comes to making the right dietary decisions. Information you record in your food diary will help you design a customised program that not only suits your tastes, but may pave the road to a healthier lifestyle.