Using a printable food diary or keeping a detailed food journal can help you achieve your weight loss goals and maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you have ever tried to lose weight, you have probably discovered that fad diets don't work.
Even if the pounds fall off quickly, more often than not, they will find their way back. The key to a healthy body, and ultimately a healthy body weight, is balanced eating.
But, for most of us, that is easier said than done. A little nibble here there, a little taste there, and before we know it, those extra calories appear as love handles or belly bulges. Can you account for every morsel of food that went into your mouth today?
Don't forget to include the couple of french fries you sampled from your co-workers plate at lunch, or the mint you used to freshen your breath or even the forkful of pasta casserole you ate to make sure dinner was ready before you served it. It's easy to lose track, isn't it? That's why this printable food diary can be a helpful tool.
Why a Printable Food Diary Can Work
In fact, a recent study showed that people who kept a detailed food journal lost twice as much weight as those who did not. That's a pretty amazing finding. Just the weight loss alone is worth it, but recording what, when, and how much you eat also has many other benefits.
Printable Food Diary
It may seem like a lot of work at first, but keeping a food diary is really quite easy. In the beginning you will have to measure your food and flip through a reference book to find out how many calories are in each serving; but, eventually you will know the particulars for the things you consume regularly and filling out your journal will only take a few minutes.
Many people say they continue to use it even after they have lost the weight and achieved their goals because it helps to keep them on track, maintain a healthy lifestyle and quickly identify any patterns before they become problems.
Benefits Of Using A Printable Food Diary
Accountability. Recording everything that goes into your mouth makes you accountable for your eating habits. Nibbling, mindless eating while watching television or other sources of hidden calories will become more obvious and you will be able to identify unhealthy patterns.
Balanced Nutrition. Sometimes we think that we have eaten MORE fruits or veggies and LESS sweets or processed foods than we actually have. A food journal will allow you to see exactly what you have eaten so you can spot areas that are lacking and make the necessary changes.
Health Care. Many health care professionals also advise people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease to keep a food journal because it helps them stick to a particular eating plan such as low-sodium or fat-reduced diets.
Attain Weight Loss Goals. When you know exactly what you are eating, you are able to identify the hidden calories in your diet that may be derailing your weight loss plans. People who keep a food diary say that recording everything they eat results in better food choices and lower calorie intake.
Identify Food Intolerances. Besides recording what you eat, you should also make note of how each food makes you feel physically. Do you become bloated, nauseous, or constipated? Do you experience indigestion, acid reflux, or diarrhea?
There are a lot of different responses to a food intolerance, but over time, a food journal should be able to help you identify the culprits so you can eliminate those particular foods from your diet. Not only will you feel better, but now that your body is functioning properly, you may actually lose those stubborn extra pounds.
Identify Emotional Eating Patterns. We all have those times when we eat even though we aren't really hungry. Sometimes it is just because that piece of cake looked good, but many times we eat when we are stressed, tired, anxious, or bored.
When you have to write down everything you eat, you are less likely to let your emotions make your decisions. And, even if you do, you will be able to recognize an unhealthy pattern and learn to control your emotional eating.
Keeps It Real. It is easy to ignore or downplay the extra snack you had after work yesterday or that cookie you sampled while baking this morning, but a food diary forces you to be real with yourself. Self-deception can be a big diet destroyer, but if you want your food journaling to work, you must be honest.
Provides A Big Picture. After you have kept a diary for several weeks or months, you will be able to look over your records and identify certain times or situations when you got off track.
Maybe it was during Christmas, a summer vacation, or a particularly stressful time. By looking at the big picture, you will see your progress or success, but you will also be able to recognize certain circumstances that may require extra diligence or a little relaxation.
Aids Health Care Professionals. An accurate food diary can help dietitians or other health care professionals provide effective advice about your health or weight loss goals.
How To Use A
A food diary, also known as a food log or
food journal, can be as simple or as fancy as you like. You can use a small
notebook or keep track of your eating on a cell phone app or computer. There are also great printable food diary sheets that will help you keep everything organized and ensure that you are recording all important information.
Some people prefer this method because they only have to carry a single sheet of paper that can be folded and easily slipped into their purse or pocket, and then filed later into a binder or book.
Some journals are more detailed than others, but it is important that you choose one that works best for you. For example, if eating late in the evening is a problem for you, then you will want to make sure that your entries include the time of day.
Likewise, if eating out makes it more difficult for you to make wise food choices than eating at home, it is important for you to record where you are when you eat.
Typically, a printable food diary includes the following information:
Time of Day
Physical effects – how you feel after you eat a certain food (if looking for intolerances)
Any other important facts – Who was with you? Was it a party? Was it a special meal (anniversary, birthday)?
Tips For Using A
As with any tool, a food diary is only
effective if it is used properly. To get the best out of your journaling
experience, follow these simple tips:
Be as detailed as possible. Record all the important facts, especially those that affect you the most.
Keep your diary portable. Use a small notebook, smartphone app, or printable sheet that can fit easily into your purse, briefcase, glove compartment, or pocket so you can always have it with you.
Fill out your journal immediately. Some experts suggest waiting until the end of the day, but this increases the likelihood that you will forget something, especially snacks or little cheats. Writing down what you eat when you eat it, will ensure that your records are accurate.
Remember beverages. Recording the food you eat is important, but what you drink can be equally as important. Soda, speciality coffees, or even fruit juices can be high-calorie sources. And, keeping track of beverages consumed can also remind you to drink your 6-8 glasses of water each day.
Record portion sizes. Avoid using general terms like “bowl of cereal” or “glass of juice”. Measure your portions so that you can get accurate serving and calorie counts.
Record calories. By keeping a running tally of your daily calories, you will avoid overeating and increase your chance of weight loss success.
Remember condiments. Condiments often go unnoticed, but they can really derail a weight loss plan. Be sure to record things like ketchup, cream in your coffee, mayonnaise, or butter.
Be honest. Unless you are under the care of a dietician or medical professional, you will be the only one seeing your food diary, so you are only hurting yourself if you are dishonest about what you eat.
Record how a food makes you feel. If you are wanting to identify food intolerances, remember to record how eating a particular food makes you feel physically.
Make note of the location. Are you eating at your own home, at the home of friends or family, or in a restaurant. It is harder to determine accurate portion size or calorie count when eating in a restaurant or when eating a meal that someone else has prepared.
Eating at home is the best if you are trying to lose weight, however if you must eat out regularly, choose a place that will give you the nutritional information of their products.
Make note of the circumstances. Are you watching tv, standing, sitting around a table, driving, eating on the run, or eating while working at your desk? Some situations cause you to eat more or nibble mindlessly, adding to your total calorie intake.
Record your emotional state. If you tend to be an emotional eater, remember to record whether you were stressed, anxious, relaxed, tired, bored, etc.
Review regularly. Your printable food diary can help you identify unhealthy patterns, hidden calories, or specific areas that need improvement. Be sure to review your data regularly so you can see the progress you have made and recognize when your eating patterns may need a little tweaking.
Printable Food Diary
Other Printable Charts
Besides the printable food diary, we have a number of printable nutrition and fitness charts availalable.
I will continue to share ideas about diet and exercise that have helped me along the way. If you have any questions I can help you with, or if you have any ideas you want to share, feel free to contact me or visit our Q&A forum.