Why You Should Keep A Food Log (Part One) – Gaining Self Awareness
Let’s play a memory game.
Can you recall everything you ate & drank in the past week?
Get yourself a pen & paper and write it all down…..
What did you come up with?
Chances are, most of you will remember your breakfast (same each day I am guessing.
Perhaps your ritual grande quad, non-fat one pump, no whip, mocha coffee?
Maybe you will remember that takeaway burger & chips, that leftover small chocolate bar from Christmas, or even that one healthy meal you made that night.
But what about all the other meals, sneaky snacks, drinks?
Do you remember how much of it you ate?
What you were doing at the time?
What the actual time was?
Unless you are some sort of memory world champion master, only by having a food log you could provide a hard objective record of what you truly ate & had to drink.
If you want to improve something, you need to track your progress.
So today I want to introduce you (or refresh you) to the importance of DAILY Food logging.
And how it can help you:
- Build Self- awareness
- Understand your sources of calories
- Learn how to control/manage calories
- Learn more about portion control
- Identify situations where you slip
Ultimately leading you to….
1. Make better choices
2. Gain greater self awareness & respect to food
3. Experience increased energy levels
4. Perform better both inside & outside the gym
5. Stay accountable for your actions
So yeah, it is safe to say that this is pretty powerful.
However, we’ve got some ground to cover, so this will be part one of two
Where I will touch on the value of food logs
And how it will help you build
REVEAL GAPS IN YOUR NUTRITION
I will also go into
HOW TO START A FOOD LOG
Part two I will dive more into how to use this information you gather from food logs
To help troubleshoot areas (where the real benefits come into play)
So let’s kick off with the first reason why you should keep a food log
1. Increases Self Awareness
It will give you INSIGHT to what you ARE/AREN’T eating
If you aren’t aware of your shortcomings
At least you can be aware of it now through a food log
And that’s half the battle
It takes the guesswork out of the equation
There is no denying what you ate & how much you had
It is what it is
Remember the point of tracking your food is not to judge or police yourself
It is to learn about yourself
Which is the first step towards adopting healthy changes that can stick
The immediate feedback will tell you
How your choices either accelerate or hinder your progress
From there you can break your larger goals into smaller, more manageable DAILY targets
This makes eating healthy almost like a strategy game (Your move)
You can also become more flexible about your eating habits
As well as increase your likelihood of Ability-to-Flex (sorry I had to say it)
Reveals Gaps In Your nutrition
Do you ever find energy sagging towards the end of the day?
Scenarios like this can often be traced back to dietary decisions
Yet your drop in energy levels is blamed on something else (work, stress, sleep deprivation)
But more often than not
It’s the poor dietary decisions catching up to you
Perhaps not enough protein for recovery, too many calories, not enough veggies & so forth
So why not give a little of your attention to what you are eating
And TRACK, TEST & ACCESS?
This will help you you ascertain whether you are meeting your targets everyday
And helps you stay up to date
Having a food log
Let’s you know where you can make STOPS or SWAPS
Making it serve as an ACCOUNTABILITY tool
Which will ultimately help you develop DISCIPLINE & CONSISTENCY
It will reveal how the the meals/snacks/drinks impact your average nutritional intake
You can then ADJUST your food choices & portion sizes accordingly to your goals
For example nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts etc)
Are indeed considered healthy, packed full of nutrient rich goodies
Such as healthy fats, good source of fibre,
Including several B vitamins, vitamin E,
Minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium,
Antioxidants (selenium, copper) blah blah blah….
But if you are taking in an extra 500 calories a day just by nibbling them
Thinking quality of food is all that matters when losing body fat
It will be difficult for you to get into a calorie deficit NECESSARY for fat loss
And most of the time the culprit is a small selection of foods
Another example is that coffee drink you might be picking up each day
It could sabotaging your entire day by packing close to 400 calories from fat & sugar
This one item could be easily changed by selecting a non fat or unsweetened version
Bringing your overall caloric intake to a manageable levels
But that also means taking ownership of less than ideal choices
‘The four beers & 5 slices of pizza you crushed to celebrate end of working week’
‘The handful of m&ms you mindlessly out ate watching Netflix’
‘That chocolate muffin & mars Bar you ate off Jenny’s desk’
‘The four cans of red bull you drank staying up late to finish off a project’
Put your mistakes into perspective
Then you can take action to correct this mistakes
Honesty is truly the best policy
3. How to start with a food log
If you have never done a food log
Now is the time to start
You don’t have to be great to start
But you do have to start in order to be great
You should be convinced to at least give it a go
Or at least improve on getting better at it
Follow this basic framework to kick you off
1. Record all food and liquids
2. Record all quantities consumed
3. Make small changes for long term success – will be explored in part two
6am Breakfast/ 4 Whole Eggs 1 Cooked Cup Of Oatmeal, 1 Tb Peanut Butter
10am Snack 1/ 2 x 90g Can of Tuna (water-based) + 1 Apple
1pm Lunch/ 200g Chicken Breast + 1 Cup Basmati Rice + 1 Cup of Mixed Veggies
6pm Dinner/ 250g Salmon + 1 Cup Sweet potato + 2 Cups Mixed Veggies
Fluids: 4L of water + 1 x Coffee (nil sugar & milk)
And don’t wait until the end of the day to fill out your food log
You could forget or misremember some details
Write/enter food & drinks as you consume them (takes less time than a comment on Facebook)
Unacknowledged extras can add up quick! Trust me
Even make a quick audio recording of your food intake throughout the day
Then later that day login to an online food tracker
To record the details directly from your voice recorder
You can also go a step further
And tie in the connections to stress, emotion, timing & location when you eat
As a good food log will do more than just track food & portion sizes
If you record the time of the day & other activities that surround your eating habits
You may just identify a consistent pattern in your eating & create conscious awareness of the food you really eat
In fact most of us eat according to cravings, convenience & even mood
So why not record that as well
If you are up for it include the following as well:
Time of the day
Type of activity
You’re welcome 🙂
That’s it for the first part of ‘Why you should keep a food log’
Stayed tuned for Part Two
Where I will go into HOW you can the most out of your Food logs
And troubleshoot common problems associated with adopting healthy eating habits
Get food tracking people
What you do in private
You will eventually wear in public!
If you like to discuss more on making a body transformation
Dave ‘Food Log Specialist’ Buck