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How Keeping a Food Diary Can Help on the Weight Loss Journey

Jun 29, 2008
Keeping track of the calories in everything we eat - not to mention how those calories affect our health - can be incredibly difficult. One of the easiest ways to make sense of eating habits and promote long-term weight loss is through the development of a consistent - and honest - food diary. Besides allowing you to document your daily calorie and fat intake, a food diary can also help you manage your emotions and gain a deeper understanding of your cravings. Most importantly, after you are able to determine what types of feelings guide your eating habits, you will be granted new ways of dealing with difficult food and lifestyle choices.

As mentioned, one of the biggest benefits of a food diary rests in your ability to monitor the daily consumption of fats and calories. By writing down what you eat each day, you will be able to hold yourself accountable and find ways to make healthy changes to your eating habits.

Likewise, when keeping a food diary, you will also find it easier to focus on healthy food choices. If you keep an honest log of all the foods you eat, you will be discouraged from sneaking fattening snacks and making choices that don't correspond to your healthy eating habits and weight-loss goals. Try to write the food in the diary prior to consumption, that way you are also planning ahead and are proactive.

Prior to weight-loss surgery, your food diary can be an incredibly useful tool for doctors and insurance providers alike. To verify that you are a good candidate for weight-loss surgery, doctors will need to determine that you have tried to lose weight via healthy eating and exercise. Doctors will typically look for patients that have failed to lose weight despite a long-term commitment to healthy eating and exercise, rather than individuals that have engaged in occasional crash dieting or other unhealthy methods of weight loss. Likewise, before most insurance providers will approve coverage for weight-loss surgery, they will need to see similar information to determine that the surgical procedure is the best long-term option.

After undergoing weight-loss surgery, you can continue to use your food diary to demonstrate your progress to your doctors. As the weight-loss surgery process includes ongoing care and support, being able to provide detailed information about your eating habits to your doctors and caregivers will improve your chances of successful long-term weight loss. As you adopt different eating and lifestyle habits, tracking any changes in a diary can be insightful to you and your clinical support team.

When keeping track of what you eat and the size of your portions, it will also be easier to practice discipline and remain committed to healthy eating habits after weight loss surgery. As weight loss surgery patients are required to follow strict dietary guidelines to ensure long-term success, a food diary can help you manage the details and stay on track.

Just as typical diaries highlight daily events and your associated feelings, food diaries will also help you make the connection between what you eat and how you feel. Along with documenting what you consume, you should also include notes about how you feel both before and after you eat. After you begin keeping track of your feelings, you may start noticing patterns in your eating habits. For instance, you might notice that you consume larger portions when eating with friends or bad days at work trigger desires to eat unhealthy foods. By keeping track of your feelings and eating habits in your food diary, you will be better equipped to deal with such difficulties when they arise and increase your chances of meeting long-term weight loss goals.

There is no right or wrong way to keep a food diary. You can organize a spreadsheet on your computer and input nutritional data for each of your meals. You can carry a simple notebook with you and jot down your thoughts throughout the day. In the end, the most important aspect of any food diary is honesty. If you are able to maintain a truthful log of your daily consumption, you will not only gain an awareness of how food affects your health and long-term weight loss goals, but also a profound sense of empowerment that will help you control your portions and make wise food choices.
About the Author
Carole S. Guinane, a Chief Clinical Officer writes articles about obesity and weight loss for New Hope Today.
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