It’s a new year, and you’re likely trying to eat healthier as a resolution. The first steps are to track what you eat, establish goals, and focus on behavior changes. Tracking your dietary habits promotes a healthy lifestyle and empowers you to take control of your health. Yes, even busy moms can get empowered. Here are three benefits to using a food diary to balance a healthy lifestyle.
Track Macronutrients Daily
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Macronutrients are your carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. They are the building blocks your body needs in large amounts because they supply nutrition to function. The USDA recommends daily healthy ranges for females and males ages 19 to 30 as follows: carbohydrates 45 to 65 percent, fat 20 to 35 percent, and protein 10 to 35 percent.
The key is tracking your daily macronutrient intake, and a food diary can help. Food diaries let you eat a range of foods just as long as you stay under your recommended healthy range. There are many apps available to help quickly track your daily intake, and most apps provide your total nutrition for the day by breaking down food intake into the three macronutrients.
In addition to tracking macronutrients daily, food diaries can help you maintain balance. LifeSum offers health education and other information to help you track your food and manage your diet. Learn what calories are, the sources of your caloric intake, portion control, and what foods you can eat in larger amounts.
Image via Flickr by Kelly Parker McPherson
Meal preparation is critical for a healthy lifestyle, and allows you to plan healthier meals for the week by planning ahead of time and having nutritious food available at a moment’s notice. Along with meal preparation, keeping a food diary can help with decide what meals to prepare so you can eat to maintain a healthy diet. It’ll show you your food group targets and, based on your limits for regular macronutrient consumption, you can plan your upcoming meals. For example, if you like to eat wheat toast with almond butter for breakfast, put that in your food diary and it’ll give you the nutrition information, so you can plan your meals for the rest of the day. The good news is that a lot of food diary apps have the majority of foods preprogrammed.
It’s easy for our minds to trick ourselves into thinking we did or didn’t eat something. Before you can manage your weight for a healthy lifestyle, you must take responsibility for your food choices. Journaling is a great way to keep yourself accountable for everything you put in your mouth. If you know what you’re eating, then you’re more likely to pay attention and stay honest.
Consider sharing your journal with others. This creates an even better level of accountability.
Recognize Emotional Eating
Emotional eating can lead to mindless eating, and unfortunately, we’ve all been there. Even on days when you’re sad, track what activities you’re doing and what foods you eat. This will help you build awareness and focus on behavior changes.
Food diaries provide you a historical perspective on the progress you’re making. It’s also a great tool for motivation. Take a few minutes out of your day so you can track your macronutrients, plan meals, and keep yourself accountable for your food choices. Once you’ve developed healthy eating habits, using a food diary will be second nature.