Why is it Important to Keep a Food Diary?

By Jeanne Karson, CBN, ANP-C

Studies show that keeping a food diary is one of the most successful ways to lose weight. In fact, it has been the cornerstone of many successful weight loss programs. Research shows that those who keep a food diary is a great way to be objective about what it is that you’re eating., create new healthy behaviors and helps you stick to your goals. Furthermore, it can also identify issues that you may be having after bariatric surgery. I ask all my patients to start a food diary at the very start their journey with us. Yes, it time consuming to write it all down, but many of you have computer-based tools that can make it easier.

We all know that we are not good at food recall. We even hide the truth from ourselves. We may think we are eating one way and in reality it is very different. It is difficult to make changes to your diet when you are paying close attention to what you are eating. Keeping track of everything you eat, i.e. portion side, snacks, carbohydrates/sweets and when you eat may surprise you. It is definitely a motivational tool to stick to your plan when you have to account four your daily intake. It’s of particular importance to also include the times you eat, whether or not you are allowing long intervals between meals which may predispose you to binge eating. You start to see the pattern in your eating behaviors, both good and bad.

Let me address the patients with autoimmune diseases, tracking what you eat and your symptoms helps not only with compliance, but can open your eyes to whether certain food are responsible for flare-ups in your condition, i.e. Rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, IBS, are just a few.

In review-a basic food diary should include:

  1. Times and meals of snacks
  2. Portion sizes and description of food
  3. Feelings associated with food
  4. Are you feeling satisfied with meals
  5. Are you eating at home or dining out regularly

After bariatric surgery, changing old eating habits may be difficult but can be accomplished with some work. A food diary is probably the best tool that will keep you accountable for what you eat and help you to stay motivated.

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