Keeping a diary helps focus your mind on your eating habits. This can be helpful when you're unsure exactly what is causing you to gain or maintain weight. It helps you to plan your next steps, track your progress and feel better.
There are various ways of tracking your eating and drinking habits. The most common ways are:
As well as monitoring what you eat and drink, writing down how you’re feeling is also useful. This can help you to see how your diet affects your mood and vice versa. You might see patterns such as feeling down or stressed leading you to eat in a certain way, or which foods make you feel better and more energised or tired and low in mood.
Jane has been keeping a food and mood diary for two weeks. She notices that she gets tired and grouchy around 3pm some days. When she reviews her diary, she finds these are the days she hasn't eaten breakfast and has had more sugary snacks. On the days she felt better, she'd eaten a wholesome breakfast and more fruit & vegetables throughout the day. Jane decides to start eating breakfast every day and snacking on fruit instead of biscuits or chocolate.
Food and mood diaries are a great way to track how you're doing. There's nothing quite as motivating as seeing progress towards your goal!
In Jane's case, she finds that not only does she feel better for the changes she’s made, but she's losing weight faster too. This makes her feel good about herself, creating an upward cycle of feeling happier and healthier.
Tracking your mood can help you build a healthier relationship with food and notice positive changes beyond the number on the scales. You might want to look out for other positive changes too, such as a drop in clothing size or body measurements, or taking a monthly photo to see how your appearance changes. The important thing is to monitor your progress in a way that works for you.
Your diary is a great way to learn from experience. You can look back at good or bad weeks to work out what went well and what you could change moving forward.
Jane is disappointed to gain 2lb one week when she’s been doing so well. She reviews her diary and realises she felt more stressed than usual that week. Whilst she's been snacking on fruit, she sees her portions have increased: a whole punnet of grapes in a day; adding a slice of toast & jam to her breakfast; the odd biscuit creeping in with cups of tea. She decides to control her portions (e.g. by taking just a small pot of grapes to work) and try out different ways of dealing with stress (such as going for a 10-minute walk). She's soon back on track and feels good about having learnt from the slip-up.
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