The Benefits & Steps to Food Journaling

New year’s officially done, and so are some new year resolutions! Nearly 80 percent of us do not keep our resolution! Not an encouraging statistic and surely stings if your resolution were to lose weight or eat healthy foods! 

Even with the best intentions, it’s easy to get caught up with everyday chores and let those goals go to the wayside. But what if one small change to your habit (call it a hack if you will) lets you reach your health goal?

Say “hello” to food journaling! Multiple studies show that those who maintain a food journal achieve several health goals such as eating healthy, losing weight, and more. A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that people who followed a consistent habit of writing a food journal six days a week lost about twice as much weight as those who kept a food diary one day a week or less. Researchers found that after following 1685 obese individuals for 6 months, food journaling led to losing an average of 13 pounds in weight. The takeaway here, keeping a consistent food diary was a powerful indicator of weight loss. 

So, what is a food journal?

A food journal is a personal record of what you eat and drink every day. The more accurate and consistent you are in your journal, the better the outcome of this activity.  

Two things happen for sure when you start food journaling. One, you will begin to realize what you eat in a day (the amount and the type of food) and gradually over a period of time. Second, you’ll become your own food police that means no mindless munching or emotional eating.  These are the two key benefits of food journaling; the rest are side effects of the above two changes. Here are the additional benefits of keeping a food diary.

Benefits of food journaling

  • Sustained weight loss.
  • Eating only when hungry.
  • Helps identify areas of improvement or change.
  • Identify triggers that cause overeating.
  • You will understand what types of food help in sustained energy.
  • You will be able to track back allergies or any gut disturbances.

How to get started with a food journal?

A basic food diary should include three things – 

What did you eat? – Food name with a simple description of how it was prepared. Example baked fish or fried chips. 

How did you eat? – An estimate of the portion size is fine. If it is a packaged food, you may be able to get this information from the label. If it is a portion of homemade food, quantify it as teaspoons, tablespoons, or cups. 

When did you eat?-This is fairly easy. Note the time you ate, instead of morning, noon, keep it precise record 10 am or 7 pm. 

Some tips

Note down soon after you eat: Trying to recall the food and quantity at the end of the day may not be accurate, and in due course, you will give up journaling. An easy way to do this is to download a smartphone app that allows you to record the details. 

Record Details: Details on your mood, emotions (stressed, happy, anxious) when eating food can be insightful when you refer to the record. Include information like if you were watching TV or dining at a restaurant etc. 

Include all drinks: Yes, water and alcohol intake counts. Be as accurate as possible with alcohol entry. 

Review your journal! This is the most important step in food journaling. Reviewing your journal will reveal “aha” moments and is insightful when you want to improve the way you eat or simply tweak a habit. 

Lastly, there may be times that you may slip up; you may even feel a sense of hopelessness because changing your habits can be difficult. Don’t let these obstacles overpower you. Acknowledge such slip-ups, stay motivated and keep up with your food record. Food journaling is a rewarding and conscious activity. It’s magical how keeping a food record works wonders for your health! Keep at it; you will be thankful that you started it.    

Good luck journaling!

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