Self-Monitoring: The Benefits of Writing Things Down

Meal Diary

Writing down your daily meals and snacks can sometimes feel like a chore. But did you know that it comes with a pack of benefits?

What is self-monitoring?
Self-monitoring is the act of observing and recording your behaviours and practices (think food, activity, moods) to help you reflect and change your behaviours. Some common self-monitoring tools include food diaries, food recalls, exercise logs, or equipment such as pedometers. 

What are the benefits of writing things down when it comes to diet?
1. Self-monitoring makes you accountable.
As the saying goes, “the proof is in the pudding.” Writing everything down that you eat in a day allows you to see exactly what you ate and whether it was a healthy choice or not. Plus, sometimes writing things down can act as a deterrent for selecting less healthy foods – if you don’t want to write it down because you know it isn’t a great choice, it can help you challenge a habit and make a choice you can feel good about.

2. Self-monitoring provides you with a visual of what and how much food you eat in a day.
Writing things down can help you visually see what and how much you are eating in a day. It may also help you become more aware of less healthy eating behaviours like mindless or emotional eating. To better understand and reflect on your eating behaviours, try writing down the circumstances you were in when you ate that meal or snack.

Don’t like writing down everything you eat in a day? Try taking photos of all your meals and snacks and write down in a journal how you felt before and after eating it. Still seems like too much work? Get creative and create a private Instagram account to document what you ate and how you felt in the comments.

3. Writing things down allows you to document your progress and successful journey to a healthier you!
Although seeing physical progress can sometimes take a long time, being able to document and look back on your journey can be very rewarding.  Soon you will be able to see differences in what you eat and how much you eat, all by writing things down.

Blog post contributed by Alyssa Ramuscak, Nutrition & Dietetics Student, University of Western Ontario