Why you should use a food diary and how to do it

Why you should use a food diary and how to do it
(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ...though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
A healthy outside starts on the inside. --Robert Urich
Last month was our wedding anniversary-just a low-key affair but we finished the evening with a treat-Magnum ice-cream. I don't know about you but I love a Magnum ice-cream. There are so many delicious flavours- Classic, Ego Caramel, White. What's your favourite!

​Would it surprise you to know that, should you decide to indulge in one smooth, velvety chocolate coated Magnum ice-cream sprinkled with toasted almond slivers, you'll be consuming 270 calories? Would it also surprise you to know that you'd have to engage in strenuous weight-lifting for 30 minutes to work off those calories? Makes you think, doesn't it. I'm thankful that our anniversary is but a yearly event.😊

A Big Mac might take only 5 minutes to eat but you'll have to set aside 2 hours 20 minutes of brisk walking to burn off those Big Mac calories.

And a tasty snack of potato chips?? Start scheduling a 30 minute intensive bout in the boxing ring.
Eating habits count
So, while there is a ton of emphasis on exercising to stay fit, don't overlook your eating habits either. Healthy eating is just about one of the most important things you can do if you want to stay healthy and avoid illnesses. If fact, if you were to talk to an expert, they will tell you that a combination of exercise and eating correctly are the two best things you can do for your body.

There’s a common example of this that you may have already heard:
You would never think about putting the wrong type of gas into your car. You know that you won’t get too far before you run into a slew of problems. 

This is exactly the way of thinking that you need to apply to your own body. Only put in foods that will fuel your body and provide you with strength and energy to live life to the fullest.
Make wise food choices

Actually most people do know what the right kinds of foods are. They also admit that they should lose weight and get more exercise if they are overweight. It just seems so hard to put these actions into place for some reason. It is so much easier to avoid going to an exercise class or to grab fast food instead of cooking your own meals at home.

But, you need to think of the consequences and the long term effects this will have on your body, and on your life. Do you want to risk developing diabetes or having a heart attack at an early age?

Let’s compare some food choices:
What is healthier? Having a couple of doughnuts for breakfast or sitting down to a bowl of oatmeal and fresh fruit? This one seems quite obvious.

Which of these is a better option?
A salad with fat free dressing or natural peanut butter on a slice of whole grain bread?
Before making your choice you need to keep in mind what you are planning on eating for the rest of the day.

Your body requires good fats so the natural peanut butter is not that bad of a choice. It also contains protein, which will give you energy. The bread is a carbohydrate which will help to fill you up. This is a good choice if you are going to be active for the rest of the day.

On the other hand if you are planning a higher fat dinner and will be sitting in the office for the afternoon – the salad may be a better choice for you.

Think and plan ahead
By thinking and planning ahead there is no reason why you cannot have a few foods that you might consider a treat, such as the peanut butter. If you balance out your meals to include healthy fats, lean proteins and lots of fruits and veggies you will be on the right track to eating a healthy diet.

The importance of exercise
Now let’s talk about exercise. It is important to exercise for many reasons. First it helps to keep your joints and limbs moving. As you age, or if you sit all day, you will notice that your joints become stiff. Over time your range of motion will steadily decline and you will have trouble doing simple, everyday tasks. Of course exercising helps your body burn off calories and keeps your weight within a healthy range.

If you do eat a higher fat meal then plan on exercising a little more the next day to counteract the calories and avoid gaining a pound or two. Remember too that the more active you are the more calories you can eat. If you sit all day, you won’t require as many calories.

Using  a food diary.. your guide to healthy food habits

Make a commitment to healthy food choices-- and stick with it
As you can see it is not that complicated to make healthy food choices. Stick to natural foods as much as possible, avoid fast foods and pre-packaged ones. Instead choose fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and lean cuts of protein. Make a point of reading the ingredient list and not buying any foods that have labels with items you cannot read.

It’s never too late to improve your lifestyle. Begin today by making a commitment to eat healthy and increase your activity level. ​

​A great way to help you keep on-track and motivated with your food choices and exercise routines is with a food diary.
Some samples of food diaries you may like to consider using
 A food diary or simple menu planner can help you focus on the foods you need to eat, help plan out your meals, keep you on track and help you to maintain or even lose weight.

Check out these examples:
*Daily Wellness Journal. This beautifully bound journal provides the opportunity to list your goals, plan your meals and workouts, review your progress and identify areas to improve.  Use this link and receive a special discount when ordering.

*28 Day healthy eating and lifestyle guide.  This is more of a lifestyle/recipe book that contains weekly meal plans, 28 day workout poster with exercises and more than 200 recipes to get you started on the road to a healthy lifestyle.

​*DIY your own food diary and menu planners.  I found a wonderful food/recipe folder at Kmart for $5 plus a set of themed stickers as a great start for my 'design your own' planner/journal. You can find a helpful range of these printable menu planner/journals, to download, print and slip into your folder, on my online shop and Etsy store.

*Food diary apps. There are many apps that will help you track your activities, list your food consumption, allow you to snap pictures of your food, help you make better choices, record your goals and provide incentives to overcome cravings and emotional eating. Start with checking out this list of 'best choice' apps. Easy Meals app, filled with healthy food choices, is a good one to check out. Another interesting one is the Food Smart app and Sugar Swap app- find out just how much sugar is lurking in the food you're eating.

*Online menu planning sites. Last, there are some online sites that you can use to plan and organise your meals and include healthy eating choices. Special dietary requirements are also catered for. Start with Gathered Table. Create your own weekly meal plan with Meal Planner Pro. You'll find information about each meal-calorie content, fats, protein, carbs and more. The recipes from What2Cook are quick, easy and delicious. When you sign up (it's free) you'll be sent a weekly menu plan that you can customise and save. It includes a shopping list to simplify your life, too.
I know.... there's a lot of choices but it also means that there's such to be something that works well for you and your needs. Take a bit of time to decide what will work best for you, which format you feel most comfortable using and whether you'd like to use a full food diary and life tracker or a simple menu planner.

Let me know what's your favourite tool/planner.

This article first appeared on atgrandmasplace.com

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