How to Keep a Food Journal

Posted on March 4, 2016 by Jenna Ahlschlager, ACE-CHC

Food Journal: A Powerful Tool for Healthy Eating

Food Journal

The first step to fixing an unhealthy habit is to acknowledge a change needs to be made. Studies show regularly tracking of the foods you eat in a food journal is one of the most effective ways to help you lose weight. It has been proven as an extremely powerful tool in tracking calorie intake as well as physical activity. Writing down everything you eat and drink helps you take a good look at your habits and enables you to make healthy changes.

There is no one “right” way to keep a food journal; you have to find what works for you and the method to best keep you on track. However, the key is to track everything you eat, including beverages and all portion sizes. The biggest challenge for those trying to lose weight is they consistently underestimate how much they are actually eating. Keeping track of portion sizes is essential if your goal is to lose weight. Below are tips for keeping a food journal and different ways for tracking everything from your food and water intake to your physical activity.

  • Record everything you eat and drink immediately: Attempting to think back and remember what you ate throughout the day can cause you to forget some things, especially if your days are busy. Writing everything down right away is the best way to get the most accurate picture of what your food intake really looks like.
  • Note what you are doing while you’re eating (driving, watching TV, with friends, etc.): Doing so can help you pinpoint any mindless eating, which is where most people consume the majority of their calories.
  • Describe your mood while you were eating: Whether it was angry, sad, happy, nervous, starving, or bored, there may be trends with how you feel in relation to what and how much you eat.
  • Be honest: Leaving things out of your food journal or only tracking your healthy choices defeats the purpose of trying to change unhealthy habits. Remember: no one has to see it except for you.

There are many different ways to keep a food journal, whether it’s hand written or electronically. Two online options are MyPlate and MyFitnessPal. They have many different food and drink items pre-loaded into the system that you can select to add to your tracker, and as you add items it automatically adds up your calories for the day. Both websites can be downloaded as mobile apps to allow for convenient tracking at any time during the day. There are also hundreds of different food journal templates online, do a quick Google search or check out Pinterest for some fun, more creative ideas. Don’t want to put a lot of time into creating one? A simple notebook and pen will do the trick.  Whichever way you choose, tracking your food and beverage intake is the first step to acknowledging a change and working towards a healthier you!

Source: WebMD, Real Simple

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