Tracking what you eat can be as simple as writing it down on a sheet of paper. It is a quick and easy task that provides an array of benefits. Before we get into why you should keep a food diary, I want to share with you different methods and tools you can use to help make this process easier.
There are apps like MyFitnessPal that automatically calculate how many calories you are consuming based on the food you input. They even allow you to scan your food's barcode to expedite the process of entering data. The old-fashioned method would be to hand write what you're eating, how many calories, carbs, grams of protein, sugar, etc. are in each item, then calculate total consumption daily. The new method is to simply enter the item or scan the pacakage and the app will automatically pull data from a database and calculate for you.
Now that we've covered different methods, we can dive into the benefits from tracking what you eat. Not only might you be surprised at how quickly snacks and small bites can add up, but you might also have a completely different perception of how many calories you're consuming daily compared to the actual amount.
1. Eliminate the problem foods
When you look at your nutrition plan and daily caloric intake from a bigger picture, you can review what you're eating and identify problem areas. For example, maybe your breakfast is carb heavy and causing you to exceed your 2400 calorie goal. Before tracking, you weren't aware of this but now you can easily identify which foods are carb heavy and replace them with something that better aligns to your overall goals.
2. Add needed foods and nutrients
You will begin to see trends after tracking daily which can also point out areas in which you might be deficient. Let's say you've been hitting your calorie goal consistently for three weeks straight but aren't seeing any results. Using a tracking app or food diary will break down those calories into carbs, proteins, and fats. This way, you can see that maybe your protein intake is not hitting your target goal.
3. Motivation and Accountability
Keeping a food diary keeps you accountable for sticking to your goals and reviewing your nutritional intake on a daily basis. Not only will you feel good entering all the healthy food you're eating, but you will also feel more motivated to continue to eat healthy and meet your daily goals. Having the ability to monitor your own progress is a great way to stay on track with your plan.
4. Repeat recipes that work
One you get into the hang of things, you can identify days where you really enjoyed your meals, review if they align with your goals, and repeat meal plans that are doing well. This makes meal prepping easier and caters it exactly to you based on preferences and past experiences.
I would love to talk with you more about the benefits of keeping a food diary and how you can use the information to your advantage. As a certified health coach, I can help you develop a full nutrition and fitness plan to achieve the results you want. For a free consultation, contact me here!