There is really a lot of good to be gotten out of keeping a food journal, once you start it, you will notice how convenient it is for keeping a watch over your weight loss, defining your food preferences, making sure you get proper nutrition and many other issues related to your eating habits.
Dropping excess weight
According to the findings of a study completed by Portland’s Kaiser Center for Health Research, of the 1,700 people involved those who were on a diet and kept a food journal lost two times the weight lost by those who forwent the expediency during a six-month research. The conclusion is obvious: as you write down the contents of your meals you make yourself more accountable for everything you take. Now you know just how much you indulge in calorie-rich food; also, your food diary will help you deal with mindless eating and chewing on the go.
Now that you have a food log you can see instantly what kind of food you have been neglecting lately thus leaving out necessary nutrients. You know that you are supposed to take nine servings of veggies and fruit per day, but your food journal shows relentlessly that it’s been only three so far. Also, it reveals the percentage of fast foods and processed foods in your diet against healthy nutrient foods. Therefore, a food journal is the very thing you need for keeping your meals balanced easily. By observing balance you will improve your nutrition. Then, you can always look back through the journal to ensure you have improved your diet compared to a month ago.
Recognizing intolerance for foods
Another helpful feature of your food diary can be pinpointing possible intolerance for foods. For that, you must record your sensations after each meal – whether you feel bloated, heavy, nauseous within an hour after eating a particular kind of food. You should know if you are, say, gluten intolerant or lactose intolerant. If you have an ailment, diabetes, to mention but one, your food log may be a valuable source of information about foods that can cause problems and show you the guideline to your healthy eating plan without aftermeal problems.
How do you set about keeping a food diary?
You can start a food journal without any professional help at all. The only things you need is a little of your time and perseverance. You will have to be consistent in putting down everything that comes into your mouth. Don’t skip registering meals, and keep track of even the smallest snacks that you chew mindlessly while watching a movie.
If writing everything down meticulously is really problematic, make use of food apps that will make the job of registering different meals in different parts of town much easier.
How to keep food log in the most effective way?
Take heed of these simple tips to make your food diary the great help it can be.
- First, consider the format. You will certainly need to register how hungry you felt as you sat down to eat, when you had your meal, what did you take and what amount.
- You may encounter certain difficulties, be ready to cope with them.
- In case you find it hard holding yourself in check, make a point of measuring out and weighing all your food.
- If calories are the big problem, take account of nutritional components too, registering fat, salt, sugar and so on.
- For a clearer picture of your eating habits, include the information on where you take your meals, who with, and whether there were any additional circumstances.
- If eating is linked with emotional issues, register your moods both before and after the meal (or the snack).
- Practically speaking, the journal should be kept on a daily basis, but if you find it inconvenient for some reason or other, make a decision to fill it at least five days every week.
Decide how you are going to keep your food log: either fill it out after each meal or find some time every evening to concentrate on what you had. Dietitians say, however, that the best bet is to make entries right after the meal or the snack and enter as much information as you can. It may seem troublesome at first, but your diligence will be repaid later.
Decide what information you will really need
Making very detailed entries may seem too much at the start – fine, lay down as much information as you deem strictly necessary at first. Jot down only the most important points. The idea that your food diary should contain full details, otherwise it will be useless, is wrong. Just start recording information, and soon your food log will be helping you analyze and understand your eating habits like you’ve never done before.
Add up every little bit
As you become more accurate, recording all those pinches of fries, handfuls of sweet stuff, sauces and mayonnaise that went with your snacks, you will be able to trace those unwanted extra calories that make for overeating. Reading your food journal backwards, you will see the way all those small items add up and amount to many more calories.
Register portion sizes
Make the picture of your meals more precise by jotting down exact portion sizes for every dish in your diary. While you measure out the portions you will gain a better understanding of what is a normal portion for the person you are. Once you’ve gotten the knack of it, you will remember your portions and do it later on a less regular basis.
Consider the problems that will be facing you
You may be embarrassed about your eating habits and you don’t want to keep them registered. You believe that keeping a food log is an absolutely worthless suggestion that won’t help any to cope with your weight. It may be extremely inconvenient for you to keep detailed accounts after each meal with your lifestyle. When you indulge you feel so bad that you want to give it up. All – or some – of these considerations are sure to occur to you at one time or another. Yet all of them are not so drastic as they may seem. Keep your mind on the usefulness of the food log, live down the slips on the way, don’t try to be perfect and focus on controlling your habits.
Reread your entries way back
Once you have got a well-filled diary, read it from the beginning and you will realize the full use of it. After doing it on your own, take your diary to an expert dietitian or therapist and go over it with them: they can point out the things you missed or suggest ways to alter your eating habits. The more you analyze the information the more benefit you will draw from it.
A few words in conclusion
Whatever your goals are, to keep calorie count, to drop weight, or to balance out your eating, a food journal will provide you with a scientific, holistic means of achieving them. You will hone your awareness, discover recurring patterns, make your bad habits stand out and consequently make necessary alterations more obvious. A little commitment and a few minutes of your time will go a long way. Your tablet or your smartphone can help you minimize the trouble of registering information regularly.
About the Author
Daria Kurilko is the founder, writer and editor of Geniusbeauty.com – an online guide for women about beauty, health and relationships. She has a master’s degree in sociology with a number of scientific publications to her credit and extensive experience in marketing and pr. Daria, who currently lives in Wiesbaden, Germany, is also a loving mother and wife. Since 2007 she enjoys sharing her experiences and broad knowledge about all things nutrition, beauty and lifestyle with her readers.