Keeping track of everything you eat will allow you to clearly evaluate your food habits and see where to make changes in your diet.
Studies have shown that people who keep food journals are more likely to be successful in losing weight than those who don’t. Here we will explain how food journaling can help you and how to make this healthy habit work for you.
Why keep a food journal?
Writing down everything constantly increases your awareness of what, how much, and why you are eating. With that information at the forefront of mind, you become more conscious of what you put into your body. This helps cut down on mindless munching. Journaling is also a great tool for analyzing your eating habits. It can unveil eating patterns and help you identify areas you need to change.
To keep a food journal, be sure to include the following:
- Amount – It’s a personal decision whether or not to be specific in the food amounts you record. Sometimes being specific is necessary (i.e. weight loss plateaus, blood sugar control) so you get a true sense of what you are actually having and how that may be impacting your goals. Other times, people just want to be more attuned and conscientious of what they are eating and in those instances, specificity is not necessary.
- Time/Place – Record when and where you are eating and drinking.
- Sensory – Jot down what you’re doing while eating and drinking. For instance, maybe you are snacking while watching TV or reading a book. Or perhaps you are drinking while hanging out with friends. Also note whom you are with. You may find that you consume more while around certain people.
- Emotion – It’s important to describe how you feel when you are eating/drinking (angry, sad, happy, nervous, starving, bored, etc.). At the end of each day, analyze how your emotions affected your eating.
Some find it easier to record these items in a table like this:
No matter how you decide to organize your food journal, it is important to be diligent with your recordings. Keeping a food journal only helps if you record regularly using clear and concise notes.
The last thing to keep in mind with food journaling is to not beat yourself up. Many people think that if they don’t keep a perfect food journal with every detail that they have somehow failed.
Food journaling is a tool in your toolbox when it comes to healthy eating practices. If you are still contemplating whether or not they are willing to do it, it doesn’t have to be an every day thing (though it certainly can if you are willing!). Two weekdays and one weekend day is usually a good start. Just remember that every attempt you make at recording in your food journal is a step in the right direction toward a healthier lifestyle.