Rebogged:from Weight-Control Information Network How can I keep track of how much I am eating? To control your weight, you need to do more than just choose a healthy mix of foods. You should also look at the kinds of food you eat and how much you eat at a time
A food diary can be a good way to keep track of how much you are eating. Write down when, what, how much, where, and why you eat. This action can help you be aware of how much you are eating and the times you tend to eat too much. You can keep a food diary in a notebook, on your cell phone, or on a computer.
Figure 2 shows what 1 day of a person’s food diary might look like. As shown in the diary, this person chose relatively healthy portion sizes for breakfast and lunch. At those meals, she ate to satisfy her hunger. She had a large chocolate bar in the afternoon for an emotional reason. She ate because she was bored, not because she was hungry.
By 8 p.m., this person was very hungry and ate large portions of food that were high in fat and calories. She was at a social event and did not realize she was eating so much. If she had made an early evening snack of fruit and fat-free or low-fat yogurt, she might have been less hungry at 8 p.m. and eaten less. By the end of the day, she had eaten a total of 3,930 calories, which is more than most people need to eat in a day. Repeatedly eating excess calories over time can cause weight gain.
If, like the woman in the food diary, you eat even when you are not hungry, try doing something else instead of eating:
- Take a break to walk around the block.
- Read a book or magazine or listen to your favorite music.
- Try doing something with your hands, like knitting or playing cards or checkers.
- Try drinking water or herbal tea without sugar or eating a low-fat snack such as an apple if a craving hits you.
- If you are at work, grab a co-worker on the job and go for a quick walk.
Figure 2. Example of a Food Diary Thursday Time Food Amount Place Hunger/Reason Calories* 8 a.m. Coffee, black 6 fl. oz. Home Slightly hungry 2 Banana 1 medium 105 Low-fat yogurt 1 cup 250 1 p.m. Turkey and cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread with mustard, tomato, low-fat cheese, and lettuce 3 oz. turkey, 1 slice low-fat cheddar cheese, 2 slices bread Work Hungry 363 Potato chips, baked 1 small bag 150 Water 16 fl. oz. — 3 p.m. Chocolate bar 1 bar (5 oz.) Work Not hungry/ Bored 760 8 p.m. Fried potato skins with cheese and bacon 4 each Restaurant/ Out with friends Very hungry 667 Chicken Caesar salad 2 cups lettuce, 6 oz. chicken, 6 Tbsp. dressing, 3/4 cup croutons 633 Breadsticks 2 large sticks 226 Apple pie with vanilla ice cream 1/8 of a 9-inch pie, 1 cup ice cream 638 Soft drink 12 fl. oz. 136
Total Calories = 3,930
*Estimates are based on the USDA’s online tool that measures diet and physical activity (http://www.choosemyplate.gov).
A blank version of the diary for you to copy and use is on page 9 of this document’s PDF file.
Through your diary, you can become aware of the times and reasons you eat less healthy foods or more food than your body needs. This can help as you try to make different choices in the future.