Keeping a food diary can be extremely helpful in a variety of situations and for differing reasons. You might ask why would anyone want to keep a food diary in the first place?
To lose weight
What first comes to mind is that research has found that keeping a food diary could be extremely helpful when trying to lose weight. You are more likely to eat less and eat healthier foods, if you actually take the time to write down what you consume every day. It might also cut down on the convenient snacking in between meals that we tend to do without even thinking about it.
If you suffer from one of these ailments
For most of us, keeping a food diary for an extended period of time is probably not viable or convenient, but I would recommend it in the short term if you suffer from one of the following ailments.
These conditions and ailments could be alleviated if we made small adjustments to our eating habits. If you for example suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (“IBS“) it is quite important to find out which foods agree with you and which don’t. For each person with IBS these foods differ. Some may find that any dairy products worsen their condition and for others it could be certain fruits, nuts or carbohydrates. If you keep a food diary for at least three months, you will start to get a good idea of which foods you can enjoy without suffering any ill effects and which foods to rather stay away from. It could also be helpful for people suffering from conditions like heart burn, acid reflux, sinusitis, ulcerative colitis, and many more. (I specifically mention sinusitis as well, because certain foods increase your mucus production and could make you more susceptible to inflammation and infection in the sinuses.)
Keeping your food diary
The principle of keeping a food diary is simple. You get a small book (that you can easily carry with you) and whenever you put something in your mouth, you just make a quick note of it. The important part is to also jot down any adverse reactions you have. Then go back to your food diary to see what you had to eat earlier or the previous day. If you keep a diary long enough, you will begin to see certain trends and notice which foods do not agree with you. In the beginning it might be a bit confusing and you might have more than one possible culprit you’ll have to sift through. If that is the problem, start eliminating them one by one, it can aid you to find more freedom from pain and discomfort just by knowing what to stay away from.
Before your big event
Another scenario where keeping a food diary can be helpful is when you are training for a big athletic event. The last thing you want is to have an upset tummy ruin your training or your big event. Keep a diary for a couple of months and make notes of when you feel at your best and when you feel at your worst. Which foods might have upset your stomach and which ones gave you that extra boost. Certain foods can make you feel lethargic and lazy and others will give you that extra needed energy. As soon as you have noticed the trend and what is right for your body, you no longer need to keep the diary.
You should soon find that sweet spot and be able to adjust your diet to boost your performance to its utmost and you might also notice what a big influence the food we eat has on our daily life. Just remember that each person is different and if something doesn’t agree with you, it is not necessarily the same for somebody else with the same condition. Each body is unique and reacts in a unique way to what we put into it.