Keeping a food diary is a great tool to keep eating intentional by keeping you mindful of what your body really needs. My food diary sheet is more of a complete LIFESTYLE assessment, though, and I’ve developed it over years of working with folks…it’s not just a record of what you eat and drink, it’s more like a tool enabling you to become mindful of the constant interplay of mood and food: what you eat affects your mood, and your mood, in turn, affects your next choice of food.
Using the Lifestyle Dairy sheet is simple! If you have the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader (software), you can easily add text to the .pdf and save your logs on your computer. If not, just download the .pdf and make 5-7 copies (that way you’ll always have a clean master!), pick a start date and for 5-7 days log the following: what you eat and when you eat it, plus what you drink and when you drink it. Also keep track of when and what kind of exercise you do, plus all the vitamins and supplements you take.
But I bet the righthand column is confusing the heck out of you! Before I fully explain what to do, though, let me back up and remind you that the body isn’t a machine, it’s a complete ecosystem so what you eat gives your body a great deal of information on how to function. I often tell my clients that the key to making permanent changes in eating habits is not discipline over the fork, but simply noticing the connections between eating certain foods and feeling/functioning a certain way.
So let’s get back to directions for the righthand column: every time you eat a meal or snack, take a moment to check out how you’re feeling JUST BEFORE you take that first bite! Use the Hunger → Fullness and Mood Scales indicated on the diary sheet or you can use the space for your own notes…ask yourself questions like:
• How’s my energy?
• What about mental clarity?
• Did my previous meal or snack affect my mood in a positive way? Or did it have the opposite effect?
• What’s my stress level?
• Did my stress decrease after I ate only to rise sharply soon again?
• Did my previous meal “stick to my ribs?” Or am I hungry again more quickly than I’d anticipated?
Once you begin recording and monitoring how you feel when you eat various foods, you’ll be amazed at what you’ve discovered about yourself! Many people find that keeping a daily Lifestyle Diary even after reaching their health goals is so valuable because it keeps them mindful of their body’s needs both physically and mentally. (You can even use this sheet to create an ongoing journal if you like…the format is perfect for storage in a 3-ring binder! Some of the healthiest, happiest, most fit people in the world keep logs of this kind on and off for years at a time!)
If you like, I’d be happy to evaluate your Lifestyle Diary…click here for a complete Health History Questionnaire, a Waiver, and more info on how to pre-pay for your Evaluation. Just please make sure to show me REALITY…journaling days that are out of the ordinary aren’t going to be helpful for either of us!
I look forward to working with you and of course don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions!