Author: Rebecca Fallon, Health Coach at Nova Clinic Naturopathic Wellness
Whether you need to monitor eating habits to manage a health condition or because you want to understand how the foods you eat may be affecting you, keeping a Diet Diary is a powerful tool for gaining insight about what, when, and why you are eating.
Too often, we eat mindlessly, leading to poor choices and over indulgence, raising the risk for developing heart disease, obesity, diabetes, allergies, colds and food sensitivities. A Diet Diary shows how to improve food choices and helps create a foundation for good health.
Diet Diaries are easy to use. You can opt for paper-and-pencil journal formats or you can use an app from sources such as My Plate, FatSecret, My Fitness Pal, Yazio, or See How You Eat. Keep in mind, the apps provide superior data capture and long-term tracking so you can more easily spot pitfalls and see your success. Regardless of the format, track your eating habits during weekdays and at least one weekend day for at least two weeks, but ideally for a month. If you're striving to manage a health condition, your holistic doctor will have additional suggestions for you.
What to Track in a Paper & Pencil Diet Diary
What did you eat? What time of day?
Portion size (measure food or estimate: "palm-full of granola"); include # of grams of fat, carbohydrates, protein and calories
Why did you eat? (physically hungry? have a craving?)
What was your overall mood? Stress level?
How did you feel after eating? (satisfied, guilty, ill)
Were you distracted or attentive/mindful about your meal?
Social & Environmental Factors
Who were you with for the meal?
Did you eat in a rush or were you relaxed?
Were you doing another activity while eating? (working, watching TV, cooking)
Did you have any physical symptoms during or after eating? (indigestion, reflux, gas, bloating)
Did you have headaches, or mental/emotional fatigue?
Review your journal at the end of each day and summarize your habits. Note the key factors for why you chose to eat at the times you did, whether you made healthy or unhealthy choices, and what were the key triggers for eating at different times. To further pinpoint the association between what you eat and related symptoms, a food sensitivity test may be helpful.
KaiserPermante.com "Best Diet Apps of 2018." Accessed on 11 Nov 2019: https://wa-health.kaiserpermanente.org/best-diet-apps/
MindfulBody.com. "Food Journal Practice." Accessed on 11 Nov 2019: http://www.mindfulbody.com/daily-practice/main-journal-page/food-journal-practice
LivingSafer.com "Best Apps for Food Journaling" Accessed 11 Nov. 2019: https://www.livingsafer.com/best-apps-for-food-journaling/
Health.com. "6 Fascinating Things a Food Journal Can Teach You About Your Eating Habits." Accessed on 10 Nov 2019: http://news.health.com/2014/04/17/6-fascinating-things-a-food-journal-can-teach-you-about-your-eating-habits/
FamilyDoctor.org. "Keeping a Food Diary." Accessed on 10 Nov 2019: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/food-nutrition/healthy-food-choices/nutrition-keeping-a-food-diary.html
TheWallStreetJournal.com. "New Reasons Why You Should Keep a Food Journal." Content provided by Sumathi Reddy. Posted May 2016. Accessed on 10 Nov 2019: http://www.wsj.com/articles/new-reasons-why-you-should-keep-a-food-journal-1463419285