Why is it important to keep a Food Journal

Diva - 05 Feb 22

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Many people want to make an improvement on their health and lifestyle - that often start in the kitchen and them making changes to what they eat. Most often than not, this only lasts about a week or two then people tend to give up. The one thing that can keep motivating you to stay on track would be to keep a food journal.

Can you benefit from keeping a food journal / diary?

A food journal can be a useful tool in the process of losing weight. It can help you understand your eating habits and patterns, and help you identify the foods you are eating, the good and not-so-good. It can help you keep track of your meals so that you can eat on a regular basis and also consume the correct amount of calories for your weight loss goals. Research shows that for people interested in losing weight, keeping a journal can be a very effective tool to help change their behaviour. In one weight loss study of nearly 1,700 participants, those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records.

What should you include in a food diary?

Most experts will agree that the secret to a successful food journal is the accuracy and consistency you do it with. So, what should you record in this journal? A basic food diary should include the following:

What are you eating?

 Write down the specific foods and beverages that you are consuming and how it is prepared (baked, broiled, fried, etc.). Include any sauces, condiments, dressings, toppings and spices.

How much are you eating?

 List the amount that you have prepared / placed on your plate in household measures (cups, teaspoons, tablespoons) or in grams. If possible, it is best to weigh and measure your food before cooking it. If you are away from home, do your best to estimate the portion this will help you a lot to stay on top if your goals.

When are you eating? 

Noting the time that you’re eating  your meals can be very helpful in identifying potentially problematic times, such as late-night snacking.

Jotting down where you’re eating, what else you’re doing while you’re eating, and how you’re feeling while eating can help you understand some of your habits and offer additional insight.

Where are you eating? 

Record the specific place where you are consuming  your 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?

It is important to Write down the food or beverage as soon as you consume it. You should not wait until the end of the day because your recollection is likely to be less accurate and you might miss a few things as you go and then your caloric intake will be more than what you estimated.
When you are writing in jour food journal Be as specific as you can with the food or beverage that you are having. For example, if you are drinking a latte, note the type of late and size that you are drinking. Another thing you need to remember is to Be sure to include any alcoholic beverages that you might consume. (These are packed with empty calories and sugars that you do not need whilst on a weight loss journey)
Something that can also assist you is A smartphone app like mynetdiary that can support your efforts. These kinds of apps also offer information on calories and other nutrients. 

After you have kept a food diary, what should you do? 

After completing at least a week’s worth of food journaling, step back and look at what you’ve recorded so far. Look for any trends, patterns, or habits in your journal. For example, you might consider the following when looking at it:

  • How healthy is my diet really?
  • Am I eating vegetables and fruit every day? If so, how many servings?
  • Am I eating whole grains everyday?
  • Am I eating foods or beverages with added sugar? If so, how frequently am I doing it?
  • Do my moods affect my eating habits? Do I reach for unhealthy snacks when I’m tired or stressed or sitting on the couch watching TV?
  • How often do I eat on the run?
Once you have identified the areas that need improvement,  you can set one or two healthy eating goals for yourself going forward. In doing so, use the SMART goal format. That means your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based.

Here are a few examples of SMART goals.

Food journal observation: You average two servings of vegetables per day.
Goal: Eat more vegetables.
SMART goal: Eat three servings of vegetables per day.

Food journal observation: You order takeout three or four nights per week.
Goal: Cook more at home.
SMART goal: Order take out no more than one or two nights per month.

Food journal observation: You eat healthy meals and snacks until about 3 pm, when you hit the office vending machine.
Goal: Eat healthier snacks.
SMART goal: Bring a healthy snack (a piece of fruit and a small handful of nuts) to work every day.

Keeping a food journal can be very informative and move you toward improving your health. Using the data from your food diary to make SMART changes, and continuing to track your progress, is a great place to start your journey for a healthier you. At the end of the day, only You can keep yourself accountable. When you start a healthy meal plan - from day 1, start your food journal and keep track of everything you are putting into your body. 

Having a food journal will show you the outcome is so interesting and helpful. This is the Only way that weight loss is achievable if one follows this process consciously. It works! However, the most important outcome is that one realises the patterns, trends, and habits, that you might not have been aware of, or perhaps you were aware of it but didn’t want to accept  it as such. The goals and characteristics are realistic - that is what enables anyone to see results if done consistently. It’s worth it and it is a lot of fun working on yourself and getting to know your own habits better.

What you need to take from this:
The journal helps you to understand your eating habits. It can help you realise what you consume. And Once you know all of this information, you can make changes to your diet to improve your weight. When you have that under control you can continue with your journal to keep yourself accountable and to see where you make mistakes and where you need to improve to reach those much desired weight loss goals. 

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