Why a Food Journal?
Want to develop healthy eating habits, but don't know where to start? Try keeping a food journal. Writing down everything you eat can help you get to know your eating habits – the good ones and the bad – so that you know exactly where to make those important changes. Keep your journal in a notebook, or print and use the journal form provided here.
Why keep a food journal?
It helps you identify patterns that could be interfering with your healthy eating plans. For example, you might eat healthily during the day, but snack a lot between dinner and bedtime, or make unhealthy choices when you are under stress. Knowing your personal weak spots can make it easier to plan meals and snacks around them.
It helps you see how the little things can "add up." Studies have shown that many people underestimate the number of calories and the amount of fat they consume in a day – they may not be "counting" extras such as toppings, snacks, and drinks. A food journal makes it easy to see how much you're really consuming each week.
It gives you incentive to stick to your healthy lifestyle. You'll be less likely to eat that extra bag of potato chips if you have to write down every bite!
What should I include in my food journal?
Record everything you eat and drink. No need to make any changes the first week – just write everything down. And by everything, we mean everything: including that bite of your friend's sandwich at lunch!
Write down what you're doing while you're eating — watching TV, talking on the phone, etc. Keeping track of your activities can help you gain insight into your eating habits and make important changes.
Make a few notes about how you felt while you ate: angry, sad, happy, nervous, bored, etc. Emotions play an important role in our eating habits. Identifying why you tend to over-eat or make unhealthy food choices can help you improve emotional eating habits.
Tips for Food Journaling:
Keep it real.
You won't reap the benefits of food journaling if you're not truthful in your entries. Remember - this is for you and no one else.
Review your progress at regular intervals.
Re-read your food journal at the end of each day, and the end of each week, making note of any links you see between your food choices and your activities or moods.Write down what you're learning.
Set mini-goals for yourself for the following week (i.e., drink 8 glasses of water daily). You'll be surprised – and inspired – by how the little changes you make add up!