09 June 2011

Food Diary: Strategic & Intentional Tool for Good Choices

As with budgeting or gauging how many miles to the gallon, you must have information to make informed decisions. That's what a food diary will do for you; it'll give you information about what you're doing right, or wrong, so you can choose well.

You may already have a food diary on your computer. In Microsoft Office's Project Gallery under Planners you'll find Meals-Diets. There is very likely a Food Diary there you can print off and use to record your daily consumption.

You can download or use one an online versions. Cleveland Clinic offers some tips and a form.

Jenny Bowden's Thinking Nutrition offers a basic Food Diary to get you started. Click to download the pdf. Print it out and off you go. Keep one in the kitchen and one in your pocket.

It's not rocket science. Just live intentionally and
choose on the basis of your long term goals and desires.

Other suggestions are to team up with a friend and swap food diaries once a week to keep each other in line. And many people find it's enough to be accountable to themselves. "You won't put that second cookie in your mouth because you don't want to see it in your food record."

It's a habit that will serve you well for a lifetime and with little extra equipment to buy. Got a pen and notepad handy? Start there.

As featured previously on Conversations@Intersections:

There's a reason so many doctors and nutritionists recommend keeping a food diary when you're trying to lose weight: It actually appears to work. The case for food diaries (or food records or journals) got a little stronger, when weight-loss researchers reported that a large, multicenter study suggests that tracking what goes in your mouth can double the amount of weight lost. The findings were part of a weight-loss maintenance trial whose initial results were reported in March. After analyzing the data on weight loss to see which factors made a difference, researchers concluded that the more days a person kept a careful record, the more weight he or she lost. . . .

It's eye opening. In fact, some people will be so shocked at how many calories are in their thrice-daily Coke that the "aha" moment will make going on an actual diet unnecessary. Being forced to be aware of what you're eating can often be enough to help people drop weight, says Wadden.

It helps you track your progress. Use the diary as a way to make adjustments throughout the day and to gauge how much exercise you need to hit a certain calorie count, advises Holly Wyatt, a physician and researcher at the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. "If I eat three cups of fries, I know that I ate a lot and can cut back at the next meal," says Francis Tacotaco, a 38-year-old skilled nursing assistant from Richmond, Calif., who used a food diary as part of a weight-loss program at Kaiser. He's lost 21 pounds so far and wants to drop more.

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