A food journal is a great tool for those of us that are trying to eat healthier and lose weight. What we eat, how much we eat, and when we eat it, is usually little more than a passing concern for most of us. You know you will eat, but like most people, we spend a minimal amount of time planning what we will eat and how it affects our health. Keeping a food journal gives you a tool to record objective data (providing you keep accurate records) of the food you put into your body. This data can allow you to make better choices, make your diet more effective, and lead to a healthier lifestyle.
What Is a Food Journal?
A food Journal is a method of keeping a record of everything you put into your body. By writing in a journal what you eat at every meal and any snacks between meals, you will have a record of the calories, nutritional information, and the amount of food you eat. The first thing you will notice is an increased awareness of how your food choices affect your diet. So, write it down!
How Do I Start?
Keeping a food journal can be as simple as jotting down what you eat in a notebook. Few of us take the time to reflect on what we eat and how often we eat. Just keeping a record of this will give you a heightened awareness of what you put into your body.
Get the App!
If you don’t care for carrying a notebook around everywhere you go, there are many smartphone apps that will do the job for you. The advantage of using a smartphone app is that it does a lot of the heavy lifting for you. These apps can generate and organize the number of calories you take in, nutritional information, and other health-related data.
Is This Pizza Good for Me?
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You don’t know. Probably not, but it could be fine. Keeping a food journal engages you in the process of managing your diet and helps you to understand how what you eat can help or harm your body. By keeping a food journal and tracking what you eat, you can analyze your food habits and create an awareness that will help you make better food choices.
6 Reasons to Keep a Food Journal
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The number one reason for keeping a food journal is that it creates a heightened awareness of what you eat. When you are tracking what you eat, you are less prone to overindulge and more likely to choose your food carefully. Studies have shown that those that keep track of their eating by keeping a food journal are more successful at losing weight.
2. Monitoring Caloric intake
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Most smartphone food journal or food tracking apps will calculate your calorie intake and other nutritional information. Most have databases that contain highly detailed information on most foods, including restaurants and fast food. Once again, this information can lead to better choices. If you find out the food you are about to consume is high in calories, you may rethink your choice.
3. Understanding Calories
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Not all calories are equal. Calories from carbohydrates differ from protein or fat calories, and they affect our bodies differently. This is essential to our understanding of how we gain or lose weight. Tracking our food tells us not only how many calories we are taking in but also the type of calories we are taking in. By comparing this information with the daily recommended intake, you can adjust your diet to be more compliant with diet and weight-loss standards.
4. Controlling Portions
The amount you eat is just as important as what you eat. It is much easier to understand how portion size affects your diet when the information is right in front of you. Portion size is one way to control calorie intake and can be adjusted to meet your goals,
5. Identify Problem Foods
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Everyone has foods they love, even when they know they’re bad for them. Keeping a food journal will help to identify the foods that are potentially a problem for you. It doesn’t mean that you have to give the food up, but it will allow you to manage them. Some apps have advanced nutritional information that can be useful for those who have type 2 diabetes or need to restrict certain minerals and nutrients such as salt.
6. Tracking Weight Loss
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Tracking your food intake with a food journal will help you understand how the food you eat affects your health and your ability to maintain a healthy weight. By analyzing your journal and making adjustments to your diet, you can optimize your eating habits. Just keeping a journal will give you a mindfulness about the food you eat.
Tips for Getting Started
Choose Your Journal
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Some might find it easier to keep a notebook, however, there are many smartphone apps that will do a great job and won’t be a burden to take everywhere. Choose an app that will fit your goals. Another advantage of a smartphone app is that many of them can give you the calorie and nutritional information for when you dine out. This is a huge advantage to those of us who are on the go.
Decide the Scope of Your Journal
It takes a while to develop a new habit. At first, set a goal of keeping a journal for a week. This will give you a good baseline to work with and allow you to make any adjustments necessary to the process. After analyzing the data make adjustments and keep track in your journal. By comparing the data each week, you will discover what works best for you. Also, determine how detailed the journal needs to be. Too many details may be cumbersome at first. You can always dig deeper later.
Keep Good Records and Don’t Cheat!
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It is important to keep as accurate a record of your food intake as possible. The data you get is only as good as the information you put in. It may be tempting to omit foods you might find embarrassing or minimize portions to achieve your daily goals, but it only hurts yourself.
Don’t Forget between Meal and Late Night Snacks
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This can be the downfall of your tracking if you are not careful. We rarely think twice about snacking, but it counts. It’s even more important to be mindful of this as snacks are usually not the best foods nutritionally.
Analyze Your Records
Look at the record and see what it tells you. If you are so inclined, share this with your doctor or nutritionist for more insight. The important thing is that you review it. You will be surprised at the amount of information that can be gleaned from your food journal. By analyzing your food journal, you can make adjustments to portion sizes, food choices, and nutritional needs.
This information can be correlated with your weight records to help you understand how your eating habits affect your ability to maintain a healthy weight. Remember that a food journal is a tool that gives you the information to make good choices, so use it.
Keeping a food journal is a proven way to achieve your weight-management goals. Studies have shown that those who journal their food have a greater chance of losing weight. Recording your food intake will raise your dietary awareness and actively engage you in the daily maintenance of your health. It may take a while to get used to tracking, but for those who stick with it, the results are well worth the work. Even if you track for a limited time, you can gain useful information that will help you understand your eating habits and how dieting works.
Let’s review the main points:
- A food journal gives you the information you need to manage weight, eat healthier, and better understand your body and what goes into it.
- By keeping a food journal, you will have an objective record of your eating habits that will help you understand and identify problem foods, when you binge, and help manage portion control.
- A food journal can provide the calorie and nutritional information that can be useful for planning and managing weight loss and maintaining a balanced diet.
- For the ease of use and access to nutritional data bases, a smartphone food tracker app is highly recommended.
- Keeping accurate and regular entries is essential. The better the tracking the more accurate the data will be.
Weight management is no easy task for anyone. Every one of us has different metabolisms, habits, and lifestyles. Keeping a food journal helps every individual to understand how their diet affects their health goals on an individual level and is one of the most effective tools to help with weight loss.
If you find yourself struggling to lose weight and haven’t tried a food journal, this could be the key to identifying what is holding you back. Starting a food journal couldn’t be easier. If you have a pen and a notebook or a smartphone and internet access, then you already have everything you need!