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Keeping a Daily Food Diary

Most of us know what we should be eating, yet we don't always stay on top of it. A good place to start is to take a 'snapshot' of what you are doing via a food diary.A food diary is a concrete record of everything you ate, when you ate, emotions, how you felt, hunger levels, exercise etc. Here are some guidelines that must be followed to keep it accurate:

1) Record your weight weekly. To determine your progress with gaining, losing or maintaining your weight or body composition, record your weight weekly using the same scales.It's preferable to weigh yourself unclothed. Remember, there is no point burying your head in the sand, though it may not be helpful to weight yourself daily as the scales don't reflect changes in fat mass and may lead to negative feelings towards your positive behaviour changes.

2) Record your Physical Activity: Record activity, intensity and duration. This may be the number of steps from your activity tracker, minutes of walking you did, intensity of your workout.

3) Record your Emotions: What were you feeling when you ate? How hungry were you? Were you ACTUALLY hungry or just feeling stressed, bored or angry?

4) Record EVERYTHING you eat and the amount: If you bite it, write it. If you picked the chocolate off your partner's ice cream, write it down. If you swigged milk from the bottle or ate a leftover sausage from the fridge, record it!

5) Record all information immediately after eating the food: Its so easy to forget what you ate and how you were feeling if you leave it until the end of the day to record. Record it straight away.

6) Evaluate your diary at the end of each day. Whether your goal is to count calories, track portions or monitor fluid intake, make sure you measure your progress each day.

7) Look at what went well: Congratulate yourself for maintaining an acurate record, and for acknowledging even the things you wouldnt usually want to record. More importantly, look at all the things that went well instead of fixating on all the things that didn't. Sometimes a food diary can be confronting but this is all part of raising your awareness about your eating habits and where things may be going wrong. If it doesnt look the way you planned, work out what you can focus on next time to improve.

Your Dietitian is not expecting that things will go well for you ALL of the time, after all, you are a human in 21st century life. It's important though that you acknowledge any mistakes and address how you could do it differently next time. By attending your next appointment with the Dietitian (even though you may feel like cancelling!) you can work through your difficulties together and change your automatic long-time behaviours for the better.

You can find our food and fluid diary template here or click on Free Resources.

If you are more tech savvy, we reccommend Easy Diet Diary (xyris software) on your iPhone or iPad. You can email your diary to your Dietitan too!

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