Does your mood affect your food?
Why should you keep a food diary?
Research has long highlighted that people who keep a record of what they eat and drink and how active they are (‘self monitoring’) have more weight loss success.
Writing down everything you eat and drink can seem a chore and will be confronting. It will open your eyes to what you are eating and will also get you to think about why you are eating something, and this may not always be due to hunger! It may be because you see it in front of you, or perhaps because you are feeling bored, unhappy, stressed or maybe
because you are with others and it is a social thing.
At times you may not be able to identify why you ‘need’ something but by questioning your thoughts and feelings you may identify that what you need is not food! The process of writing everything down
will help you to identify emotional eating and habits that have developed over the years. It can take a little while to get used to but will have huge benefits.
You must be honest with yourself when keeping the food diary. It is for your benefit. So everything you eat and drink must be written down…that piece of cheese whilst making a sandwich for someone, that half a biscuit that was sitting lonely on the plate, the left-overs from dinner…everything must be written down.
As for measurements, you can use the scales or you may find it easier to use spoon sizes or cups (tablespoon, desert spoon, teaspoon, half a mugful, half a pint)
Benefits of keeping a food diary
- Knowing it will go into your food diary prompts you to make you make a careful choice about whether to it eat it or not.
- It draws attention to unhelpful eating patterns or things you might have been doing without realising. For example, always eating in the car, missing meals then eating whatever you can get your hands on, calling into the shop you pass on the way home.
- It helps you be more aware of situations, feelings or thoughts that make you eat more than you had planned to.
- It helps you to plan to be more active on a daily basis
- It gives you something to look back on to see how things have changed over time
You can buy yourself a small book to keep with you (and pen!) to note things down. Remember to note what you eat/drink, why you eat/drink, how it affects your mood and hunger levels about an hour or two after. At this stage it is about identifying habits and nutrition deficiencies. Be honest with yourself.