Monday, June 8, 2009

Importance of Food Diaries

Many of you are going to say, "Food diary! Ach pooey!"

Don't dis the food diary just yet — this is a great tool for those of us having a tough time losing weight.

A food diary serve a couple of purposes.

First, it helps us see exactly what we eat. How many pieces of chocolate do we steal from our co-worker's candy dish? When you're honest and count every soda, every peanut butter cup, every cup of coffee, you can determine how to (possibly) cut calories painlessly.

Secondly, it helps determine if you're calorie-heavy later in the day, when you should lighten up on what you eat. Dinner should not be the heaviest meal of the day, and yet is often is — we're meeting friends, we have time to try that new restaurant after work, we haven't eaten well or even eaten at all during a busy day.

My usual recommendation to my clients is to keep a food diary for a week without changing any of their eating patterns. At the end of the week, my clients and I sit down together and review their intake of groceries for that week. Often, that's the eye-opener that prompts them to think about what they're putting in their mouths.

No matter how healthy you think you're eating, you can fine-tune your diet to eliminate "throw away" calories, like that latte or the handful of chocolate. If you're mindful of what you're consuming, determine whether you want to spend that 100 calories on the slice of cheese for your burger or 300 calories on salad dressing, or if you want a low-fat option. You can pace out your meals so you're maintaining an even caloric intake during the day.

Remember, 300 calories a day will earn you an additional pound every 12 days, or three pounds a month. Write it down — and think about what you're doing, instead of just doing it, so you'll be more aware in the future.

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