Being aware is an important part of making lasting changes to a healthy life. For some people, keeping a diary is a good way to be more careful. You can keep track of what, when and how much you eat. You can also record what you do and how you feel.
The road to better health
When you start a diary of food and activities, try to record everything. This means recording everything you eat and do during the day.
Write down what you eat and drink throughout the day. Start when you wake up and finish when you fall asleep. Include how much you ate (portion sizes). If you are unsure, use an estimate. This will give you an idea of how much you consume each day. If possible, write down the number of calories you ate or drank. Also record water consumption. It is important to stay hydrated throughout the day.
At every meal or appetizer, ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” You may be hungry, need a snack, or not hungry at all. Make a note of this in your journal. This helps to record thoughts, feelings and symptoms. They play a role in why you want to eat. Doing these things will help you make better decisions in the future.
Write physical activity every day. Include the type and period of time. For example, you ran for 30 minutes or rode your bike for an hour. Be sure to include routine items such as housework and dog walking. Add a note to record thoughts, feelings and symptoms. This could be how you felt before and after, or if you felt any pain.
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Write down all the questions you think about during the day. They can be emotions, ideas or goals. Be sure to include hobbies and time spent with other people. You should also note any questions or concerns you wish to discuss with your doctor.
Aspects to be considered
Here are tips for using a food diary and activities:
- Commit to writing in it every day. Think about what you have learned.
- Keep track of times to help you analyze patterns or habits. This could be when you ate, how long you were active, or how you felt.
- Try to keep a diary with you so you can write things down before you forget.
- If you do not have the diary with you, write a note and add it later.
Every day, look at what you wrote in the diary. Compare it with other days to learn patterns and be more aware. For example, did you eat from all five food groups? Did you miss a meal? This assessment will help you make healthy changes in your daily life. You will be amazed at what you find and how useful a diary can be. Whether you want to lose weight or just improve your health, the choices you make every day matter.
If you find it difficult to keep a paper diary, consider an online magazine. There are many mobile apps that allow you to track food, drinks and activities. Try to find an application that also has an emotional or mental component. Examples include Rise Up, My Fitness Pal, Yazio and Lose It!
Questions to ask your doctor
- How much should I eat and drink every day?
- How much activity should I do each day?
- What do my feelings have to do with losing weight or living a healthy life?
- What goals should I set when using a food and activity diary?
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides an overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and for more information on this topic.
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