Secret to good health, fitness: Maintaining a food diary
Want to stick to your diet? Interested in losing weight? Experts say maintaining a ‘food journal’ can help you do both and much more.
Recently, Sonam Kapoor’s personal fitness trainer Radhika Karle shared a picture on Instagram of what the Bollywood actor’s diet usually consists of.
The caption of the picture read: “Want to know @sonamkapoor’s secret to keeping her nutrition on point even when she’s super busy?
1. Sonam is vegetarian
2. She loves hummus, avocados, and grilled vegetables stuffed in a pita
3. She’s been eating on the go at Cannes but everything has been fresh. Stay tuned for more! (sic).”
Although this was just a one-off listing of the actor’s meal, the act of writing down or documenting what you eat is part of a much larger trend overseas. Maintaining a food journal or diary that documents everything about your daily diet has several health benefits. Many experts, too, encourage the fitness-conscious to maintain a ‘food journal’.
“Tracking what you eat and drink can keep you focused on your diet. It can motivate you and increase your efficacy. Eventually, it can help you achieve your fitness goals,” says Sheela Tanna, dietician.
The challenge, however, lies in the fact that a food journal needs to be updated throughout the day, and every time a person eats or drinks anything. And with our busy lifestyles, it can often get difficult to find the time to fill in these details. Nonetheless, in the long run, experts feel it can become a good habit to maintain.
Benefits of food journaling
A food journal is perfect for those who worry about their weight, and don’t know how to reduce it. Writing down what you eat, and how you feel after eating it, can help you compare your daily food habits, and plan balanced meals, thereby, improving your nutritional intake. Furthermore, this activity also makes you accountable for everything that goes into your mouth, including high-calorie indiscretions. Food journaling helps reduce and eliminate mindless eating habits too.
Detecting food intolerance
Recording how you feel physically after eating certain meals can help you discover your food intolerances. If you consistently feel bloated, nauseous or have diarrhoea an hour after drinking milk or eating ice cream, you could be lactose intolerant. Similarly, if you feel uncomfortable after eating bread or other food items that contain wheat, you could be gluten intolerant.
Keeping chronic diseases in check
If you have chronic diseases, such as diabetes or hypertension, keeping a food diary can help you plan your diets better. “Keeping a food diary for two weeks helped around 75% of all patients with chronic medical conditions identify their problem foods,” says Santosh Kumar Pandey, naturopath.
How to maintain a food journal
Write down everything about the food you eat
For every meal or snack. This must include the portion sizes of all the food items, and any extra ingredients you consume. Also include any fluids or fruits you have
Write down how you feel before and after a meal
Are you eating more fries when you are happy? Or do you opt for more ice cream when you feel low? These may help you cut down on some emotional eating habits.
Write down everything without trying to make the chart look good or convincing.
Take a break
If thinking about food is stressing you out, then stop writing for some time. Take a break and resume the process when you feel ready.
Don’t expect immediate results
This is a slow process and tangible results can be calculated only after about a year.
Apps that help you with food journaling
* My fitness Pal
* Lose It!
* My food diary
* My net diary
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