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Food Diaries Are A Pain

Fresh berries in a bowl

The tactic in weight management that I’ve found to be the most effective and also the most cumbersome is keeping a food diary. The concept is simple: record and monitor your intake. The data you record will help you to better understand the needs of your body, what foods should be cut out of your diet, and ultimately help you balance your calorie count in order to achieve your weight goal. While the concept is simple, the execution is not.

Keeping a food diary is tedious. We eat all of the time, and oftentimes there’s no nutritional information available. Even if it is available, you might have to do some digging to find it. There’s also the sticker shock of going out to eat and realizing that the meager sandwich you just ate was 85% of your daily calorie goal. Bummer.

I prefer to do everything digitally, so finding a food diary app was a problem for me. Thankfully many have a scanning feature that allow you to scan a barcode on the food packaging and the app will do the rest. The limitation of this feature is whether or not the food you just ate is in the system. Digital food diaries can take away the friction of recording intake, but there are still real challenges.

Perhaps the most difficult part of keeping a food diary is that they make us admit reality. Yes, I really ate those cookies. Yes, I really ate two lunches. Yes, I had too much to eat at dinner. Reality is uncomfortable, but that was likely the reason you started keeping a food diary in the first place.

Using a food diary is the single most effective tool in achieving weight loss. Take your time to select the method or app that’s right for you, and be disciplined enough to record your intake consistently. Make eating decisions based on your intake and, over time, harvest the benefits of success.