Why keep a food diary? It's just the easiest way to ensure that you're consuming a heart healthy diet. But it isn't just about what you're eating: when you keep a food diary you'll be able to see patterns in your eating and drinking habits that you may not have been consciously aware of before. Once you've kept your food diary consistently for a few weeks you can start looking for simple changes to make that will help you maintain a heart healthy diet. Here are some tips on starting a food diary and keeping up with it from day to day.
Explore food diary apps. Nowadays you can use technology to easily keep track of your food diary entries. There are a lot of different food diary apps out there, some will tally calories or track your activity, so do a little research before downloading to find one that suits your needs and that you know you'll keep up with.
Pay attention to meal frequency and times. Are you eating three meals a day? Are they spaced out fairly evenly? It's okay to experiment with meal frequency (for example, you might eat more small meals throughout the day) but a food diary will help you spot snacking habits. These can help you identify when and why you eat when you aren't really hungry.
What are you drinking? How many cups of coffee or juice or soda did you have in an average day? Swapping these drinks with plain water, especially while you're eating meals (which is when you tend to drink more in order to wash down food) will help you cut down on sugar and caffeine. A heart healthy diet limits these types of calories and stimulants. Additionally, if you have concerns about alcoholic intake, a food diary is a good way to keep tabs on this.
Discover ways to cut calories. Examine your food diary to see if you're eating fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains more than you're eating processed foods, carbs or sweets. How much red meat do you consume in a week? Are there easy ways to substitute fresh fruit for that afternoon snack?
A food diary should include what you eat, roughly how much of it you eat, and the time you ate it. If you stick to recording these details in your food diary regularly, you'll be able to gain insight into your eating habits. Then, you can make informed decisions on how to achieve a heart healthy diet that will keep your ticker going strong for years to come!
While you're here be sure to check out our other articles on heart health including How to Take Blood Pressure at Home and Stress Relief Tips.