How To Keep A Food Diary
While I don’t believe in keeping a food diary forever, it is an excellent tool to use when beginning a new program or when paying attention to new things, and so I’d suggest you give it a go if you’re looking to lean down or better understand what works for you.
You’ll notice I’ve allowed space for all different macronutrients within each meal (protein/fat/carbs etc), and have even allowed up to 7 meals. Hey, I know what it’s like to be on the go for a super-long day and sometimes 4-5 doesn’t cut it.
Obviously I don’t mean you should be aiming for 7 though.
Start right now by filling in the date for this week at the top of sheet 1, and then your food for the day so far. You can also record last night’s sleep. As you go throughout each day, or at the end of the day, make note of any cravings you had, your overall energy, and your moods.
Your food choices affect everything about how you function and feel, not just the way you look and tuning in to that by using your Food Tracker is going to empower you to make the right choices for your body.
Don’t worry about quantities/frequency/what you ‘should’ be doing – we will come to all of that! For now it’s just about paying attention.
how to eat
We get so used to thinking about which foods to eat to be leaner or healthier, to fit into a certain pair of pants, or perhaps even to meet the rules we’ve defined for ourselves.
When was the last time you stopped to think about food just for, well, life? For enjoyment? Even just plain and simple for fuel?
A goal for one day – perhaps today – is to choose only to eat foods that make you feel good. At the time as well as afterwards. Regardless of the rules.
This is harder than it sounds as you seriously need to ignore every little pop-up voice that may spring into your head. Part of the difficulty is that you might not be sure which foods these are.
Don’t worry. This will get easier – and it’s all part of figuring out where you are now rather than getting stressed about calories and so on.
analyse your eating habits
Once you’ve been keeping a food diary for a few days, a good next step is to review it and make a note of the percentage of ‘clean’ to processed foods you are consuming.
I don’t expect you to anally count every single gram of food to get an exact percentage, but it is worth figuring out the general figure. Scan through your food tracker and on a notepad give yourself a point for every clean choice and a point for every processed food choice.
Here are some processed foods that may not seem obvious at first:
• Bread, pasta, noodles (even whole-grain)
• Quick oats
• Fruit or vegetable juice
• Even dark chocolate
• Processed meats including deli chicken, turkey, ham, bacon
• Pasta or other sauces (bottled ones)
• Sports drinks
• Nut butters
• Protein shakes
The point is not never to eat processed foods. Obviously I’m fine with protein shakes, nut butter and dark chocolate. And wine!
My recommendation is for now more than approximately 15% of your food intake to be processed. Even if it’s ‘healthy processed’, these foods require no work for your body to absorb the energy from them.
Working for your food improves digestion and metabolism and often offers greater nutritional variety.
In Part Two of this series we will talk about the breakdown of proteins to fats to carbs to eat, as well as your ‘eating type’.
Life is Now. Press Play.