Keeping a FOOD DIARY is one of the biggest boosts to understanding your eating habits and recognizing your food preferences, patters of eating and weakness, and then addressing them.
With every new client, I ask them to keep a record of everything they eat and how they are feeling when they eat, over a minimum of three days – one day at least being over the weekend – in my Food, Mood & Movement Diary. This diary is to show, the foods they ate, the quantities of food, the time they ate, their hunger levels when they ate, what they were doing and their mood at the time they ate. It is important to be as detailed as possible. For instance, breakfast toast, was it wholemeal/white/granary/sourdough? Thick/medium/thin sliced bread? How many slices? How much butter/spread/oil? a teaspoon? A tablespoon? How much dressing on a salad? What dressing? Olive oil or shop bought Thousand Island? In coffee/tea, low fat or full fat milk or none? Any sugar? A cappuccino or a latte? Any wine after work or with dinner? Desserts – cheese, chocolate biscuits, fruit or tart, cream or ice-cream?
I email them a diary to update daily. The client can either print off and fill in as their day progresses, or keep a little book with them to enter EVERYTHING consumed and to update the diary at the end of the day – whatever works for them.
This diary is often an absolute revelation. When I meet new clients, I always talk them through a 24 hour recall where my client talks me through their food consumption for the previous day. If they have also kept a food diary, the results, when compared can be very different. Most of them can add at least another 15% food intake to the 24 hour recall when compared with the diary.
The most valuable part of the diary is not to count the calories but to identify and analyze the times when a better choice could have been made or a client has eaten out of boredom, stress or picked up an unhealthy choice due to lack of preparation and/or planning.
Once this information is in front of you, it is so easy to make small tweaks that will make a massive difference to weight loss success. It quickly becomes obvious the benefits of preparing a sandwich or a salad for the fridge at work when you know you will be hard pressed for time to get out and choose a healthy lunch, and keeping some fruit or nuts in your desk for the afternoon slump or when the chocolate biscuits are being handed round. Having a bottle of water and a banana or small bag of mixed nuts always in the car or handbag also prevents the need for a can of drink from a vending machine when thirsty and at best a “healthy” (not!) protein bar or at the worst a bag of sweets or chocolate for instant energy (think immediate fat), from the services.
Identify the times you ate as an emotional response and find an alternative which won’t leave you feeling even even worse after you have eaten the tub of ice cream or chocolate bar – put on a CD you love and sing along in the car is one of my favs, or call a friend, read a book, relax in a bubble bath or one of the most benifical stress debusters, go for a walk in natural light.