How to do a food diary

To change our habits and behaviours, we first need to know which ones we have and what we are going to change. This is where the food diary comes in…

What is a food diary?

Easy things first. A food diary is simply a log of what we eat and drink throughout the day. If we eat or drink it, we make a note of it for future reference. It is basically a way to gather data about our current eating habits. And once we have this data, we can work out efficient ways to change it for the better.

Why do a food diary?

There are many reasons why you may want to keep a food diary. For me, the first reason is simply data collection. If we want to alter something for the better, we need to know our starting point. If we are eating/drinking too much or not enough of something, we need to find out before we can do something about it.

But I bet a few of you are thinking:

“I know what I’m eating and drinking! I’m there when I’m doing it!”

Yeah, well, your memories are almost certainly wrong, especially when it comes to emotive subjects like food. That’s just the way it is I’m afraid. Humans are notoriously rubbish at remembering things like this.

We also tend to fixate on particular things, so fail to see something that could be far more important.

True story – I was chatting to a lady for over 10 minutes about whether eating walnuts was good for her and how many she could eat….but she forgot to mention that the walnuts were sprinkled on top of a carrot cake!

The food diary helps us be more objective about what we eat and drink when it’s facing us in black and white. And when we have a true record of what we are eating, it is easier to find patterns and decide how to fix things.

The other reason I find a food diary useful is so we can record our moods/emotions/feelings when we are eating. What and how we eat are closely connected to how we are feeling at the time. Remember when you were a teenager and were dumped by your other half? And so you binged on ice cream and chocolate? That’s an example of how our feelings and emotions can influence our food. And if we can find patterns in feelings/emotions throughout the week, we can try and do something about it and help our healthy eating habits as a consequence.

Seeing these patterns and being able to be in control of any changes in eating habits can also have a positive impact on our approach to food and emotional wellbeing.

See below a food diary template which you can use as a start point. It does not matter if you do a food diary on paper or on your phone…the important thing is that you do it!

Homework

Start filling out a food diary for yourself. Remember, it is not a test or anything, it is only a way to collect data and set a benchmark for how you are eating at the moment.

Don’t fall into the common trap of thinking

“I wont start it yet, because I’ve been eating bad today”

The whole point is to get an honest snapshot of your current eating habits. How can we do that if we refuse to acknowledge our bad and good points?

You can use the template below to get you started.

You can either:

  • Download and print it out for free.
  • Hire me to coach you through it and you will get online versions we can work through together by clicking here.

The next step…

Take a few days or a week to fill in your food diary. But while you are doing it, take a look at the next page which will help you discover what kind of eater you are…