Food Diary 101
Many nutritional experts agree that keeping a food diary is critical to weight loss success. A food diary creates a conscious awareness of food intake and eating patterns. The most important factor in keeping an effective food diary is to make it an honest one. Why go to the trouble of keeping a food diary if you aren't going to be honest with yourself? Remember, no one has to see it but you, so do yourself a favor and stay truthful. Since the main purpose of the food diary is to think twice before consuming a food item, I suggest documenting the food items before consumption. What to Track in Your Food Diary In the beginning, I suggest that you document the times you eat, the foods and drinks you consume, portion sizes, total calories, and make notes about what you were doing or feeling at the time. After you get used to documenting the above categories, I suggest you also start tracking macronutrients (grams of carbohydrates, protein, and fat) to ensure you aren’t eating too much or too less of a specific macronutrient. Additionally, some people might benefit from also tracking their sugar and sodium intake. A registered dietitian, nutritionist, or nutrition coach can teach you how to track these categories if you are having trouble. Furthermore, your nutrition expert can help you determine your daily caloric allowance to help you meet your nutritional goals/needs and if warranted help you find a mobile app or computer website that can aid with your tracking. Awareness is the Key Here are a few questions to ask yourself before eating. Will this food item put me over my daily caloric allowance? Is it beneficial or harmful to my body/immune system? Am I hungry, bored, emotional, stressed, in a rush, etc? How will I feel after I eat it...satisfied, healthy, ashamed, guilty, etc? Do I need to alter the portion size? You may find it helpful to record when you tend to overeat so you can plan to arrange other activities in the future that will take your mind off of food. Get to the Heart of It For us Americans, food is far from scarce. Hence, we often use food to meet our emotional needs as much as our physical needs. If you tend to binge due to stress, or you regularly give in to emotional eating, your food diarycan bring all this into the light. When you catch yourself eating when you're not hungry or giving into a binge, spend some time with God in reflection so together you can figure out why it happened. I often find myself telling my clients, this isn't really a nutrition problem, it's a heart problem. Don’t make the mistake of filling up on food when you really need to be filling up on God, His word, His truths, His Spirit and power. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:26–28, esv). The valleys in life are dark places and many of us turn to food when we need to be turning to God. Have life’s difficulties caught you off guard? Do you wonder if God is good? Are you puzzled over how a frustrating, hurtful, or shocking event could possibly contribute to anything good? Though you may not see the good yet (or ever in this life), keep your eyes on God. If He weren’t going to use that situation for your good, it wouldn’t have happened. He has to sign off on every single thing that touches your life. That’s not to say He wanted it—God is not the cause of evil, but He is the solution. Is food occupying your mind where God should be? If you are suffering from emotional hurts (brokenhearted), captive to food obsession, blind to the destruction this habit is causing you, and oppressed by food abuse, then you qualify for Jesus’ help. Invite Jesus into this issue through prayer and then start renewing your mind to His Living Word daily.