Your food diary will show you everything that you eat and drink because you have formed habits around these items. Using the journals, we can question whether these habits work well for us or not. Popping to the kitchen to make a quick cup of tea can become a familiar routine whenever you have a quiet moment.
But how many cups of tea do you really need in a day? And how many cups do you actually want?
The strange thing about habits is that they sometimes lead us into behavior that does not sit comfortably. You find yourself making yet another cup of tea even though you do not really want it. But because you have made it, you drink it anyway.
The same thing is true with snacks, cakes, biscuits, crisps, or chocolate. None of these items is unquestionably ‘bad’ but what makes them bad for us is the quantity that we eat.
All of them can feature in your weekly intake, but make a conscious decision on how much and how often.
One or two desserts during a week may not do you too much harm. But if you fall into the habit of taking dessert after every meal, you can encounter problems with your calorie intake and your energy levels.
This is where the hunger rating scale on your food diary comes in. We fall into habits so that we do not have to think about every single thing we do.
These patterns of behavior can become extreme when people fall into the habit of having the same meal at the same time every day. This is quite common with breakfast, for example. Most people are too tired or too busy sorting themselves and their families out for the day to be creative with their breakfast choices.
We stick with what we know and often eat it as quickly as we can.
Habitual choices at lunchtime are also quite common. This is sometimes down to time and sometimes down to accessibility.
If you are busy at work, it is easiest just to grab the usual sandwich and get back to what you were doing. Problems arise when people fall into extreme habits of eating the same things at each mealtime every day.
These are the people who love routine and love familiarity, but they may not love the effects these comfortable routines and habits have on their bodies.
The hunger scale is effective for breaking habits. It can highlight the times you eat when you are not really very hungry.
This is a very common situation when we are stuck in familiar eating habits. If you are used to eating the same things at the same time, you may not even be hungry when you are taking those meals.
Eating when you are not hungry is likely to lead to weight gain and so should be avoided at all costs. Establishing just how hungry you actually are will enable you to eat according to your body’s needs.
This will help you determine whether or not you need to change the habits that you have developed. And if you do, what new tactics you can employ to get a better result.
Similarly, if your eating habits leave you starving before each meal, you are very likely to overeat, leading to a similar result – you will gain weight.
If your hunger rating is nine or ten out of ten before every meal, you need to think about altering your meals to incorporate some longer-lasting energy sources or inserting some healthy snacks between meals to help you feel a bit fuller more often.