You’ll often hear dietitians (or even personal trainers) recommend you keep a food journal when you’re trying to lose weight or control your blood sugar, especially if you’re over 50. We know you’re busy, so we wouldn’t ask you to add any more work to your already hectic day unless it was worth it. If you bite it, you should write it. Here’s why:
- It makes you aware of your eating habits. The only way you’ll ever make any changes in your food habits is by paying attention to them. If you have to think before you pop those M&Ms in your mouth, you may be less likely to do it. You’ll also notice certain habits- like grabbing that bag of chips every time you sit down to watch the news.
- It lets you know what you’re missing. If you look over your food diary, you may notice you’re eating too much of some foods and not enough of others. In general, most of us could use more vegetables and low fat dairy products and less sugar, fat and salty snacks. What’s missing in your diet?
- It keeps you honest. If you truly want to improve your diet and health, you’ll have to be honest. Keeping a food diary makes you accountable for what you’ve eaten. If you have to write it down, you may be less likely to eat it.
- It makes you realize you may not be hungry. Many people eat due to stress, boredom, anxiety or other feeling. If you keep a journal, you’ll realize what’s eating you and possibly eat less. As a general rule, if you’re not hungry, don’t eat!
- There are lots of apps that do the work for you. Counting calories can be a drag. But with all the great technology and web sites that analyze your diet for you, there’s no reason not to track your eating habits. A terrific one is the 50plusPlusFit Personal Trainer which is loaded with over 40,000 foods and several diets which you can tailor to your own personal health needs, including nutritious diets for weight loss.
- It works. Research studies have found that dieters keeping a food journal are able to lose twice the amount of weight of those that don’t journal. You can’t argue with science!
- You’ll notice patterns. Like- maybe you’re not eating breakfast, or perhaps you snack too much in the afternoon. Pay attention to what goes in your mouth!
- It helps with food intolerances or allergies. You can’t blame particular foods for your symptoms if you don’t know when you ate them. Keeping a diary helps track foods you’ve eaten that may cause gastrointestinal or other symptoms (like a rash).
- We’re going to ask for one. Any dietitian that’s worth her weight in salt will ask you for your diet history. In order for us to help you clean up your plate, we have to know what’s on it first! So please, keep a food diary.