Derval O'Rourke: Get started on food and mood diary

Derval O'Rourke: Get started on food and mood diary
This week Derval O'Rourke talks about the benefits of keeping a Food and Mood Diary and some guidelines to remember in order for you to get the most out of it. Picture: Joleen Cronin

Writing down information has always worked well for me when I’m trying to get an understanding of my food intake or my exercise.

For those of you not particularly enthused at the idea of monitoring your food intake, research has shown that simply keeping a food diary can have a positive impact on weight loss, if that is your goal.

This week I’m going to talk about the benefits of keeping a Food and Mood Diary and some guidelines to remember in order for you to get the most out of it.

I’m also going to share one of my favourite feel-good recipes - a delicious Vegetable Salad that’s packed with goodness.

I love making extra of this salad and having the next day with cooked couscous or quinoa.

Food and Mood Diary - What is it and why is it useful?

It’s a really powerful tool to show you a snapshot into your eating habits and may unveil elements of your approach to food that you previously were unaware of.

Pairing food and your mood together can give you an insight into why you make certain choices.

This will help you identify previous roadblocks that you may not have noticed and will empower you to find ways around them.

As we are all beginning to reset after phase 1 of lockdown it may be a good time for you to keep a food and mood diary.

I tend to do this for 3-5 days at a time and do it maximum twice a year.

Guidelines for keeping a food and mood diary

Derval O'Rourke: Get started on food and mood diary
Keep your diary with you all day and make sure you keep track of everything you eat and drink.

Write everything down

Keep your diary with you all day and make sure you keep track of everything you eat and drink at time of consumption, no matter how small it seems. 

Don’t rely on your memory at the end of the day.

I track my water consumption as accurately as I can too, as I know that how much water I drink each day will have an effect on my mood, how I sleep and how I exercise.

If you are more of a digital person then take a picture of everything and keep it in your phone with a note about it. 

Be specific and honest

If you have vegetables, record how much you eat -1/4 plate, handful etc- If you have a coffee be specific ( e.g. small latte with 1 sugar).

This is YOUR food diary, you need to be totally honest to get an accurate picture of your eating habits.

I know that there is a huge temptation to leave out things like the bar of chocolate you had while watching Netflix etc, but there’s no need!

Leaving things out like this will only mean you’re wasting your time tracking everything else.

Food habits 

Aim to record your food diary for a minimum of 3 days and maximum of 5 days.

This will give you an insight into your eating habits on different days e.g. days that you are working or days that you are socialising.

Derval O'Rourke: Get started on food and mood diary
The food diary will give you an insight into your eating habits on different days e.g. days that you are working or days that you are socialising.

Weight 

Recording your weight is optional. Record it at the same time each day (e.g every morning when you get up or every night just before bed).

I’m a firm believer that one should not obsess over the scales as lots of things can make that number rise, which will make your confidence drop.

I prefer to track my progress based on measurements and how my clothes are feeling.

For my new Tone at Home 28 Day Challenge on derval.ie, I’m providing a tracking document and video where people can record their measurements at the beginning, mid-point and end of the challenge to see their progress.

Muscle weighs more than fat, so when you’re training, as the fat in your body turns to muscle, it makes sense that you will begin to weigh more, that’s why I think it’s important to know that the scales shouldn’t dictate the progress you make.

Tracking your mood is also a way to take the pressure off this being just about food

Derval O'Rourke: Get started on food and mood diary
Tracking your mood is also a way to take the pressure off this being just about food.

Mood 

This is an important part of your diary, it will give you insights into how you are feeling when you eat a certain way. 

Try to be as accurate and honest as possible.

Personally I tend to eat more chocolate when I’m feeling stressed, which is something I’ve learned from my food and mood diary.

You will begin to see correlations between different food habits and your mood.

Tracking your mood is also a way to take the pressure off this being just about food, ultimately we all want to feel our most positive selves so mood is essential to this.

There is no perfect time to start a food and mood diary but it is a great tool and one that is well worth doing. 

Pick a Monday and get started.

Honey Roasted Vegetable Salad with Roast Garlic Yoghurt Dressing 

This is a handy summer salad. 

I like to have it with a side of couscous salad and a BBQ chicken fillet.

Prep Time: 12 minutes 

Cook Time: 20 minutes 

Serves: 4 

Derval O'Rourke: Get started on food and mood diary

Ingredients

3 mixed bell peppers, rough chopped 

2 courgettes, cut into strips lengthwise 

1 aubergine, cut into strips lengthwise 

2 red onions, roughly chopped 

2tbsp olive oil 

1tbsp honey 

Salt and pepper

Dressing

2 bulbs of garlic 

300ml natural organic yoghurt 

2tsp smoked paprika 

Juice of ½ a lemon

 

Method 

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Mix the vegetables, oil and honey in a large bowl.

Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Place on a roasting tin along with the whole garlic bulbs and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, strain any excess liquid into a bowl and set the vegetables aside.

Add the yoghurt, paprika and lemon juice to the liquid and whisk together.

Peel the roasted garlic (should just ooze out easily when given a squeeze), add to the bowl and mix thoroughly until smooth.

Serve in a large bowl drizzled with the dressing and enjoy.

Fitness Tip 

To make your fitness goals more achievable, write down your goals somewhere so you’re accountable to yourself and you will have a focus.

I get my Derval.ie members to fill in a goal chart before we start each challenge as it helps to keep the motivated.

Wellness Tip 

Digital Detox - leave your phone downstairs before bed time and have at least 30 minutes of screen-free time before you try to go to sleep.

Your sleep quality will improve hugely.

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