There are many reasons to keep a food diary that you might not know, if you don't already keep one. A food diary is actually a great tool for many people, not just avid dieters. You can keep a food journal in a notebook just like you would a list of to-dos. You don’t have to show it to anyone, and it can be as simple or complex as you want. You might also even find some creative ideas for your diary on Pinterest, who knows? Make it fun, and be inspired. Don’t see it as a form of dread, but instead, think about these helpful reasons to keep a food diary. Don’t worry, no one will see it but you!
1. Makes You Aware
I think one of the best reasons to keep a food diary that anyone can benefit from is it makes you more aware. Keeping a food journal shows you how you eat each day, and allows you to be more aware of how and when you eat. This can show you lots of things about your eating habits, what food groups you eat more of, and if you eat when you’re stressed, whether at work or home.
2. Helps You Understand Your Body
One really great reason to keep a food journal is it helps you understand your body. If you see you’re eating chocolate at 5 or 6 p.m. each day, and starchy foods in the morning, it might be a sign you eat stress-relieving foods for comfort. There’s nothing wrong with chocolate or a starchy bowl of oats, however, it can open your eyes to what foods you crave and what properties they hold. If you eat a mostly clean diet rich in organic foods and vegetables, and high protein, it might also show you seek balance in your life through your food since these foods are balancing foods. Or, if you nightly eat a bowl of ice cream or cookies, it might show you have created a nightly habit of snacking on sweets to help you nod off. All these things can show you what your body craves so you can figure out why.
3. Visibility for Change
Instead of going over your daily diet in your head, writing it down makes things visible so you can make healthy changes. You might be more apt to forget what time and how you ate your morning snack, or how much, but writing it down gives you a way to see how you could improve, if you even need to. You can easily say, “Oh, I could eat this here instead of that,” or “I could sub in this for that, and eat more at breakfast so I’m not starving at lunch.” Think of your diary as a workable, visible plan.
4. Shopping List
One thing I love about my food diary is it helps me make a better shopping list for the week. It can be easy to skimp on necessary items, or overdo others, but writing down what you eat during the week can help you see what you might need to buy more or less of.
I bet you’d be less apt to eat unhealthy foods if you had to write them down. Think of your diary as a best friend who won’t let you give up a race. Your diary is the same way. It can also help hold you accountable for your grocery budget. Instead of eating that whole bag of dark chocolate squares, remember writing it down will help you realize if you do, you won’t have anymore left for the week. This can help you manage both your waistline and your weekly budget better.
I hate to count calories, but I know it works for some people. Writing down how many you eat, if you do count calories, can help your dieting progress. Or, if you’re not eating enough calories, it can also be a way to see that you need to add higher calorie foods to your diet.
Diets are usually some form of discipline. This isn’t a bad thing, though it can turn into a dangerous habit. For one, it helps you be disciplined to listen to your hunger instead of your cravings. You’ll have to write down everything you eat, and most likely, be more apt to write down only what you really need to when you’re hungry. You should never go hungry by any means, but writing things down can prevent mindless snacking out of boredom.
Do you keep a food diary? What benefits would you say you’ve gotten from it?