Food journals are an effective and easy way to gain a better understanding of your eating habits. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or simply looking to minimize mindless snacking and develop healthier habits, food journals can help you. Here are 5 top tips to aid you in keeping an effective food journal, as well as maintaining a positive outlook throughout the process.
Food Journaling And Its Benefits
A food journal is simply a way to track all the foods (including snacks) and beverages that you consume throughout the course of the day. It provides key information about your eating habits and is a useful and effective way to help you identify any unhealthy patterns. It can be used as a personal reference guide to help you better understand your relationship to food.
Food journals are also often used as a strategy to support weight loss, as they can help you better understand what you’re eating and why, as well as make you accountable for your own eating habits. In 2008, a study involving 1,700 participants was published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, which found that people who kept food diaries were able to double their weight loss. Food journals can also support you to become more mindful about what you’re eating, thereby helping to inform your future choices.
You should use your food journal to inspire and motivate you to make healthy changes to your lifestyle. However, if you have a tendency to be obsessive, have a history of eating disorders, or begin to feel guilty or ashamed of food journaling, then it may not be the most suitable approach for you. Getting further support from a dietician can be helpful in these circumstances.
How To Keep A Food Journal
1. Be Honest And Log Everything
Food journals are only effective if you’re honest, consistent and specific. Make sure that you log everything that you eat, including a rough estimate of the portion sizes. Also note down any condiments you may have had, as well as your beverages.
2. Track How You Physically Feel
As well as making a note of the food you ate, write down how you physically felt before, during and after eating. For example, consider if you felt uncomfortably full after a meal or whether you had any digestive discomfort. You could also make a note of your energy levels, or consider how able you were to focus before and after eating.
3. Track Where And When You Eat And Who You Eat With
It’s useful to track where and when you eat, as well as who you eat with. These factors can have a big impact on your eating habits, from the amount of food and beverages you consume, to the types of food you eat. This may help you to identify key patterns, such as whether you eat more/less when sitting at a table, compared to the sofa. You may find that you eat more when alone than when eating with others, for example.
4. Be Consistent And Journal Throughout The Day
Keeping a food journal can seem like a time-consuming task. However, if you log your food and drink intake throughout the course of the day, it can become a fairly quick activity. Whether you do it on paper or use an app, make sure that you log your intake consistently throughout the day, as soon as possible after eating. A study in Obesity involving 142 participants over six months, found that it took participants only an average of 14.6 minutes per day to write in their food journals. You can also add photos of your meals to help you be more accurate and precise.
5. Make A Note Of Your Moods
It’s useful to track your moods when you eat, as these may be impacting on the types of food and beverages you’re consuming. Tracking your moods will also help you identify eating patterns, as well as whether there are specific triggers for your eating or snacking, such as stress.
Food journals help to gather important personal data on your eating habits, which you can use to help you make better, more informed choices about what you’re eating. Most importantly, they can help you develop a healthier relationship to food and inspire you to make positive lifestyle changes.
Lauren Groff is an experienced tech writer at State Of Writing. She previously worked in an HR department of an IT company and now uses her experiences to share key tips with her readers. Lauren also enjoys writing on a range of topics related to food, health and wellbeing and supporting others to lead healthier lifestyles. When not writing, Lauren enjoys trying out healthy new recipes and going for runs at her local park.