A food diary is the key to managing your diet, whether you’ re trying to lose weight or just want to cut back on certain elements like sodium or carbohydrates. It’s easy to lose track of what you eat, so a journal is a powerful tool to manage intake. The goal of a food journal is to get an idea of your daily diet and then tailor it to fit your needs and goal. Here’s how to get started on one:
1. Pick a Style: In today’s computerized world, there is no reason you have to rely on pen and paper. There are online programs to help track food intake. You can download an application that helps you record what you eat. If you prefer, the old-fashion journal is still effective. Pick the style that suits your life – you’re more likely to stick to it if it fits your lifestyle.
2. Write Down Factors to Track: Journals are not just about food. You can keep track of anything from sodium intake to daily exercise. Base the determination on your goal. If you are trying to lose weight, you should manage calories, exercise and water each day. If you want to gain muscle, track your protein intake along with your workout supplement intake. Write down the nutrients and factors that will help you reach your specific goal.
3. Stay Portable: Carry the journal with you whenever possible; take it to the gym, work and restaurants. If eating out, you might need to ask for details on each dish to record it. If monitoring food reactions, ask the server to check for milk, gluten or any other ingredient you might need to control. Some restaurants offer nutritional information for each dish, which makes your life a lot easier.
4. Be Honest: The journal will not do you any good unless you are honest. If managing calories, write down the portion size. Just because the label says is it 300 calories doesn’t mean you ate 300 calories – especially if you ate four portions of it. Track down everything even if it’s just a sip of soda or a small piece of candy. This will help you keep the most accurate records possible.
5. Total It Up: Diaries meant to help manage calories or other restrictions like sodium, will require a total at the end of the day. Just add up each entry and note it at the bottom. Computerized applications will probably total for you. You’ll probably be surprised at just how much you eat in a given day. We tend to drastically underestimate the amount of food and drink we consume each day.
6. Learn from It: Once you know your daily totals, use the MenScience fitness calculators to help you adjust your diet accordingly. If you consume too many calories, you may want to cut your meals in half. If you eat too little, you may want to eat more often throughout the day. The online tools provided by MenScience will help you use this new knowledge to achieve your desired results.