Why does food journaling work? In one word: Awareness. Writing down each and every thing you eat and drink lets you directly observe your choice of fuel and materials for your body. Many people eat out of habit without truly considering the amount of food they eat, how this food makes them feel, or why they choose the particular foods they consume. More often than not, once made mindful of these things, people realize they can eat less and feel better by consciously making healthier dietary choices.
Keys to Success
- Write down or enter in your foods as soon as possible after you eat them. This makes it easier than trying to remember everything at the end of the day and also decreases your chance of forgetting something! Remember, this is a new habit that you are forming and like any new habit it will take a few weeks until it becomes second-nature.
- Be detailed in your journaling. Don't forget condiments or specific ingredients in salads, sandwiches, etc. Also, try your best to estimate serving sizes. It may be helpful to use measuring cups and spoons for a few days to familiarize yourself with what certain amounts look like. For example, measure out your cereal in the morning so that you can be precise in entering portion size. You may be surprised to see that you have been eating a larger serving than you realized! Soon you will be able to eyeball your servings of food and won't need to measure.
- Before your last meal of the day, check in with your food journal to get an idea of what you have eaten so far that day. This practice can help guide you in the right direction regarding which foods you may want to eat before the day is over. You can do this by checking your macronutrients and micronutrients. For instance, you may realize that you have eaten a large amount of carbohydrates and very little fats and proteins and therefore plan to have a couple of servings of nuts with your next meal. Or you may notice that you have not eaten enough vitamin C so you decide to make an orange or some berries your next snack.
- Keep track of any digestion issues, energy levels, skin breakouts or rashes, or anything else physical or mental that may coincide with what you put in your body. This is a personal record of the way your body responds to what you eat. Over time you may notice patterns so pay close attention to your body's signals.
- Reflect at the end of the day. Review your food intake and write a journal entry for your mood and emotions. This can be an important piece to understanding why you made certain dietary choices. Feel good about the healthy foods you ate. Don't be hard on yourself if you made some less than ideal choices. Remember that this is a constant learning process, keep your goals in mind at all times, and you will succeed!
Corinne Goff is a Registered Dietitian who is absolutely passionate about food, health, and nutrition. Corinne has a BA in Psychology from Salve Regina University and a BS in Nutrition from the University of Rhode Island. As a nutritionist, her objective is to help people reach their health goals by offering a personalized holistic approach to wellness that incorporates natural foods and lifestyle changes. She works together with her clients to develop daily improvements that they feel comfortable with and that are realistic. She believes that the focus on wholesome, nutrient-rich, real food, is the greatest possible way to become healthier, have more energy, decrease chances of chronic disease, and feel your best.