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Discover How Keeping a Food Diary Can Help You Lose Weight

Updated on November 15, 2011

Obviously we all need to eat to live. But many overweight people eat out of habit, without giving much thought to what they are eating or why they are eating. If you want to lose weight, it's very helpful to understand your own eating habits so you can identify problem areas. You can't change your bad habits unless you know what they are.

The best way to know what you are eating all day long is to write it down. This is where the idea of a food diary comes in. A food diary is simply a record of what you eat, with the addition of a few important details. It's important to make your diary entries as soon as possible after eating so that you don't forget anything. But just writing down what you ate isn't quite enough to help you understand why you eat the way you do. So you should also write down the circumstances around your eating.

Let's look more closely at what to write in your food diary. First of all, you must record everything you eat during the day, including any beverages that contain calories, such as a glass of milk or a cup of tea with sugar. You have to be honest in recording what you ate and how much you ate. Don't judge yourself. Just write it all down, preferably immediately after you've consumed the food. Most overweight persons significantly underestimate their daily food intake.

Next, you must record the time of day when the eating occurred. You must also record how hungry you were when you ate the food, based on a scale of 1 to 10. This information will help you figure out whether you are eating because you are hungry, because the clock says to eat or for some other reason entirely. It can also guide you to schedule your meals differently so that you never become absolutely ravenous.

In addition, you should write down what you were doing just before eating. This helps you to discover what events or activities in your day trigger eating that is unrelated to hunger. For example, certain people head for the fridge as soon as they enter the house, just out of habit, whether they are hungry or not. But if they become aware of this behavior, they can find ways to avoid it.

Finally, you should record what you were thinking or feeling just before you decided to eat. This information helps you understand what kind of thoughts or feelings are going through your head when you decide to eat. Many people eat in response to depression, frustration, or boredom. This is called "emotional eating" and it can be a real problem for some overweight persons.

Keeping a detailed food diary might sound like a lot of work. But everyone who does this exercise properly will discover something interesting about their own eating habits. Give the food diary a try and you will soon find that it is well worth the effort.


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