Why you should keep a food diary
Food diaries can often be sold as a complex, detailed, confusing habit to get into. I think they’re sold in this way in the hopes that we’ll purchase those intricate food diaries which claim to be able to change our lives rather than just put pen to paper on a notepad. What we often overlook is the fact that they’ll only change our lives should we stick to completing them consistently.
When it comes to creating a habit it’s more effective if we start off with the very basic requirements. We can build upon it in the future once we get into the swing of things, but expecting ourselves to be able to keep up with a new, very complex habit right from the get go really isn’t fair on ourselves. It’s time to be a little kinder and cut ourselves some slack. So, why should we consider keeping a food diary anyway?
An enormous amount of negative symptoms that we experience such as feeling tired, headachey, mood changes, stomach ache, itchiness, nausea, stomach upsets, aches and pains can be traced back to what we eat. By noting down what we’ve eaten and how we’re feeling we can take a look back at how certain ingredients or foods affect us, in doing so we can decide if we’d like more or less of those meals and snacks in our day to day lives.
A food diary also creates an incredible amount of awareness around food. A plethora of studies have shown that putting pen to paper can help us work out unknown details about ourselves, our bodies and our minds as well as solidify new knowledge and reap much greater benefits from our life experiences.
There are food diaries you can purchase in shops, download online and apps you can tap away on in seconds. Many of these can be rather complex and also focus on calorie consumption. Rather than focussing on calories, fats and labels in general, I prefer to focus on how the food makes us feel. We’re all very different and require our own personal diet which changes as we age. It’s important that we are able to identify the foods that make us feel good and incorporate more of those into our lives, in doing so we feel happier, healthier and much more joyful in our day to day living.
My coaching clients are required to complete a food diary. They can download a printable version if they wish, fill it in online or even just jot down the headings in a notebook or on the notes app on their phone. The important part is consistently completing the diary each day with a focus on what they feel, it doesn’t matter how they do it.
Rather than delving right into the work I do with clients, which is a little more complicated as I we do a session on getting to know the food diary and taking a step by step approach into using it, let’s start off really simply.
Each day note down in a notebook, diary or even on your phone’s calendar the food you eat and how it made you feel after an hour or so and then after a few hours. When you’re not feeling great look back on the foods you’ve eaten over the past few days and underline any possible culprits. Pop a little heart or star next to any foods that make you feel good each day.
After a few weeks take a look back at each day and the foods you’ve underlined. You may be able to see a pattern of foods that don’t agree with you and foods you really enjoy. Alter your day to day food as you’d like. This takes time to work out but it’s so very worth it. You can read more about how I discovered my food allergies using a food diary here.