An Exercise in Self-Awareness

The humble food diary is often the battleground between the best version of yourself and the version you would rather not admit too. Several studies over the years have demonstrated that people underestimate their input. The other thing I have found interesting over the journey has been the interpretation of the weekend, sometimes starting on Thursday night (if the footy’s on)???? Or Friday night and dependent on public holidays or annual leave periods could actually span a lot longer than the defined Saturday and Sunday??

What if we approached it a whole different way, rather than a battleground, what if we used it to gain unprecedented access to your life. You would not believe what your stomach has to say if given the chance…. Give the following a try and without changing anything you eat and see what you find out and don’t be a naysayer, give it a try, be 100% honest and I promise you’ll learn something about yourself. Below is the food diary template I recommend to most people I’m trying to help. The first column is PLAN, this is the column I ask you to prepare the night before you go to sleep for the day after. Most people will have a good idea on what their eating in most main meals and if they’re going out for lunch then they just write that in the plan  – going out for lunch @ (insert restaurant here). The second column is ACTUAL – let’s be honest we all plan to be the front page of Men’s Health tomorrow but then that reality thing happens, I thought about calling it ‘Reality’ but sarcasm is apparently the lowest form of wit! Anyway, in ACTUAL you enter exactly what you’ve eaten, no exceptions, no best case scenario, no ‘ifs, buts or maybe’s’ that’s what NOTES is for. The NOTES column is for the “if’s but’s or maybe’s” and this is where those hidden gems are. I was presenting to a group of fathers last week on Nutrition for Growth and when discussing role modelling and automatic behaviours, one gentleman raised his hand and said, “your right, I can’t watch TV without eating”. It is this automatic behaviour that we gain insight into and can challenge when we are. If the average person is in front of a screen around 5 hours a day (TV, phone, tablet, computer) that’s a lot of time being tempted to eat! The other part of the equation is an overall understanding of your eating pattern, the other thing I may suggest for busy people is to include times both for the plan and for the actual. This gives us some insight into how long you are going without food for and also whether your plan is setting you up for success or not. Without any direction from me on the what, this exercise alone if done for 3 days or more will most certainly mean you end up a lot closer to that better version of yourself than the opposite.

Food diary

Food Plan

Actual Intake

Note Diary


Morning Tea


Afternoon Tea


Water intake

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