By Trainer Kate
Keeping a food journal can be very beneficial to achieving your fitness goals. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or just attempting to eat healthier, keeping a journal can help you make positive changes. Writing down every snack, drink, and carb that you consume will make you more accountable for what you are eating and maybe even why you are eating it. Here are a few benefits of keeping a food diary.
1. Weight loss
A food diary will enlighten you to unhealthy habits. That late night ice cream might be skipped if you know you have to account for it. Many times we forget about the little snacks that could potentially be keeping us from losing weight.
2. Detecting food intolerance
Writing down what you eat and how you feel afterwards can help you realize what foods your body reacts negatively towards. If you feel bloated and nauseous after eating eggs, dairy, or gluten, then you may be intolerant to these foods and will know what to limit or avoid in the future.
3. Portion control
Keeping a food journal is also an excellent way to manage the portions of your food. Know how much you are eating is just as important as what you are eating.
4. Better nutrition
Keeping track of your every meal will reveal more than just calorie intake and food intolerances. If your day consists of mainly carbohydrates and proteins, then you’re not getting the vitamins you need from fruits and vegetables. Know your macros- Using an app is a great way to automate this (i.e.: MyFitnessPal).
5. Identifying triggers to unhealthy eating
Keeping track of mood and time of day of your meals/snacks can reveal how stress, work, or certain people affect your food choices. If you eat every meal standing up, then you’re probably rushing and eating more calories than if you sat down and took your time. Using a food diary to note certain triggers will help you get rid of the unhealthy habits.
What should you include in a food diary?
What are you eating? Write down the specific food and beverage consumed and how it is prepared (baked, broiled, fried, etc.). Include any sauces, condiments, dressings, or toppings.
How much are you eating? List the amount in household measures (cups, teaspoons, tablespoons) or in ounces. If possible, it is best to weigh and measure your food. If you are away from home, do your best to estimate the portion.
When are you eating? Noting the time that you’re eating can be very helpful in identifying potentially problematic times, such as late-night snacking.
Where are you eating? Record the specific place you are consuming food, whether it’s at the kitchen table, in your bedroom, in the car, walking down the street, at a restaurant, or at a friend’s home.
What else are you doing while eating? Are you on the computer, watching TV, or talking with a family member or a friend?
Who are you eating with? Are you eating with your spouse, children, friend, or a colleague, or are you alone?
How are you feeling as you’re eating? Are you happy, sad, stressed, anxious, lonely, bored, tired?
Remember small changes make the biggest difference. Be honest with your entries and make changes where you see you need improvement. Don’t try to change 20 things at once, that’s setting up for frustration and failure. Make 1-2 changes each week and just keep at it!