The best way to keep a food diary

When I work with a client, I often ask them to keep a food diary for me, either as part of the pre-consultation process or as part of working with them.

The reason that I ask for a food diary is that it is, as far as I’m concerned, one of the easiest ways to get an understanding of food, habits and health.

But there’s something you need to know if you are going get any good use out of a food diary.

The trick is to not worry too much about portion size or calorie count (although, obviously it is useful to know if you are eating 2 chocolate biscuits or 22 of the suckers).

The trick is to note down these four KEY points.

  1. What you ate.
  2. When you ate it.
  3. Why you ate it.
  4. How you felt.

Those four pieces of information will give you (or me, if this is for a consultation) a really great foundation for understanding a bit more about you and your food.

Some of the points might not seem very important – after all, why you eat is pretty clear. You eat because you are hungry.

Or do you?

Maybe you are like me and you find yourself nibbling like crazy when you are trying to do a piece of work which you really don’t want to do. I love to procrastinate by browsing through the kitchen cupboards!

How you felt is also key. You might not be officially intolerant to any foods, but as a runner, it can be really useful to know if, say, chickpeas make you tired.

(chances are, chickpeas do not make you tired. More likely, they make you gassy, but I’m trying to make a link here, so just go with it).

If you notice that each time you have homous, you feel tired, then it’s probably a good idea to avoid chickpeas before the race where you are going for a personal best. Kind of makes sense. But you might not realise it if you hadn’t taken the time to notice that chickpeas knacker you.

So, why not grab your notebook and keep a food diary for a few days and see what might be foxing you.

If you want a bit of help figuring out what it all means, Start Right and Carry On is just what you need. I’ll take your three day food diary, and give you the exact first steps you need to start eating right and then you’ll get support to help you carry on using those new ideas, turning them into lifelong habits (in a fun way).


2 thoughts on “The best way to keep a food diary”

  1. Thanks for these tips, Claire!
    The “why you ate it” bit seems the most important: sometimes I eat because I’m bored, sometimes because I’m stressed – especially about money, sometimes because I’m deep-down ‘thirsty’, not so much ‘hungry’.

    Calling these to my attention will make it easier to make changes in the habits!

    • You are totally welcome! Being aware of why you eat stuff really does make a huge difference, even if you don’t actually try to change anything. Just knowing that stress makes you reach for something, or, in my case having to do a hard piece of work makes me ‘browse’ through the cupboards, is really useful information.
      Let me know how you get on with keeping a bit of a food diary!


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