Research suggests that one of the best ways to change unhealthy eating habits is to first keep track of them, which makes sense considering most of us underestimate what we actually eat in a day. By identifying patterns of unhealthy eating choices in the record you keep, you can begin to change them.
Create a food record that includes the following items:
- Date and day of the week. Also note the exact time or the general time of day — such as morning, lunchtime or evening.
- All foods you eat and drink. Be specific on the types and amounts, and include details such as added fats, sugars — like butter, honey and other sweeteners — and beverages.
- Portion sizes. Measure or estimate the size in volume, weight or number of items.
- Your location when you eat. Write down where you are, whether it’s in your car, at your desk or on the couch — and whether you’re eating alone or with someone else.
- What you’re doing while you eat. Pay attention to what else you may be focused on, such as watching TV or socializing at a restaurant.
- Your mood. How do you feel — happy, sad, stressed out?
To make your food record worthwhile, be honest and record every bite of food you eat. If you don’t record everything, you won’t have an accurate picture of your intake. For the most accurate results, try to record your food intake within 15 minutes of the time you eat. Use a daily food journal to help keep you accountable.