What We Can Learn From Keeping a Food & Exercise Diary
We’ve all heard how keeping a food & exercise diary can help us with weight maintenance or weight loss. But what other insights can one learn from tracking? And what medium is best to keep track of what you eat?
Tracking food with apps, websites, or paper
There are so many options that it can sometimes feel overwhelming to start. Apps, websites, paper, and pencil. It is all about personal preference. Personally, I like apps because I always have my phone on me. I also know that I’m terrible at writing things down, and will forget whatever notebook it was I decided to use. Overall, the most important thing is to simply start.
Reality vs. hopeful thinking
When you record what you’ve eaten throughout a day, you quickly learn what’s reality vs. what you’ve been telling yourself. Many of us have gotten used to telling ourselves that we, “eat lots of fruits and veggies”, but in reality, we may not eat enough. Or maybe we can see that the fruits that we eat are actually dried cranberries in our oatmeal. Actually recording what we eat shows us what changes we need to focus on, as opposed to the daunting thought of changing everything.
Tracking emotional eating
A good insight to consider when recording food is our emotions. You might see that you’re on track at work until a big issue arises. Maybe you start to see a pattern when you’re stressed: you go home tired, upset, and find comfort in snacks or large/multiple servings.
Track the time and speed of eating
Another nice part of tracking your food is that you can make note of when you ate. Was it due to actual hunger or the “food clock” that we are all used to (“It is noon, time for lunch!”) This can help you to schedule more appropriately or plan smaller snacks in-between larger meals.
The speed of how quickly we consume our food can also be noted within a food tracker. As with many of our lives, speed is a part of everything. Sometimes this includes how we eat. If we see that we’re eating quickly, we can focus on slowing down which usually means we’re less inclined to consume as much as we would have in the past. Or realizing that you feel more “settled” after eating, as opposed to “overly stuffed”.
Many food trackers also double as fitness trackers. For example, MyFitnessPal not only has a large food library but can also track how many calories you can gain throughout your day (add to your caloric total) after working out. Many fitness watches and trackers can be synced with this app so that it will automatically adjust the allowed calories you have set for yourself. Don’t have a fitness watch or tracker? You can manually enter the exercises you perform within MyFitnessPal as well. If you are looking for some additional ways to find time for fitness check out this post on finding the time. There are also many ways to shake up your fitness routine.
What should you choose?
Overall, the choice of tracking food, emotional eating, timing, exercises or anything else is a personal choice. This might work for some, and not for others. However, if you have been thinking of trying an app, read reviews, talk to others, and find out what works for you. I can guarantee that you will learn something about yourself and your habits!