Do you keep track of your food habits? Whether you are eating a healthy diet or not? How much are you eating? Most of the time, the answer would be ‘NO.’
Then it is a good idea for you to learn about the concept of a food journal. A food journal is a simple diary in which you can write down: What you are eating, the amount you are eating, and the nutrients that your food provides.
Read on to understand ‘Why keeping a food journal is important and ‘how to keep a food journal’? Nowadays, this idea is encouraged by most dieticians and fitness trainers because it works well as a part of an individual’s weight loss regime and overall fitness. Here are some tips on the best ways to keep a food journal:
HOW TO KEEP A FOOD JOURNAL:
Keeping a food journal along with you at all times will keep you informed about your food behaviour at any place where you take your meal, whether at home or outside.
- Chart your meal
One must write down the food they consume at the very instance in a diary or notepad. Your notes will mention all the food groups that were part of your meal. Don’t miss even the smallest details; the alcoholic beverages must also be written.
If you tend to rely on your memory, you may miss out on some important details later on.
- Be particular
The exact state of your food has to be cited. Not only does the food group or its nutrient content matter, but how your meal has been prepared is also significant.
For example, steamed vegetables can retain more nutrients as compared to boiled or deep-fried veggies. The fat content in fried chicken can be high, even though chicken breast is considered low-fat food.
- Your portion size matters
Be specific about the amount of food intake. You may measure in weight, a number of items, or volume. If you had a healthy and nutrient-dense meal, overeating has to be avoided. Your body needs calculated calories for its basic functioning. Therefore, if you consume more than what is required, the extra calorie will be stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver and rest as fat. This will lead to weight gain.
- Be mindful of your mood effects.
You have to stay focused on what is going on in your mind while eating. As said, your mood has to do a lot with your food cravings. You may crave food even though you are not hungry. For example, a person feeling stressed or bored may be triggered to eat high calorie, sweet and fatty foods.
- Your dining partner
The person you share your table with can have an influence on your food choices. For example, if your colleague ordered a burger, you may also want to replace your healthy salad with that fatty meal. Even sitting and eating with your family, you may be distracted from your track. Other activities like watching TV, working, etc. should also be noted.
- Be sincere
Honesty is defined as a human’s best quality. Learning how to keep a food journal can benefit you only when you are willing to make an honest promise to yourself and fill in your journal with authentic and accurate information.
- Missed out items
Mention if something has been missed, as it will give a better understanding of your food pattern and related issues.
BENEFITS OF KEEPING A FOOD JOURNAL
- Weight reduction
Keeping a food journal with you handy will keep you focused and on track when you are following a weight loss regime. Your diary will hold you accountable for whatever you eat and maintain your calorie count.
- Getting a reality check
You tend to realize whether your belief about your diet plan is true or just a perception. One may have a perception that they had a balanced diet, but your notes will top the truth. You may be missing out on fibrous foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and holding on to beverages with added sugars.
- It gives you an outlook of why you go out of track and opt for food items that must be avoided or eaten even when you are not hungry.
- Learn more about food items you like/dislike and get an insight about your food intolerances.
- Your food journal can be used as a food guide. Next time you are going to place an order, take the help of your journal to select healthy items that are good for your gut or complement your fitness regime.
- It takes no more than 15 minutes when done on a daily basis.
You may have got answers on ‘how to keep a food journal,’ but some other facts are also to be remembered.
- Keeping a food journal or scribbling on a notepad amongst friends after every meal may feel awkward to some, so clicking pictures of your meal can be opted. You can make your notes later on without missing any detail.
- Restricting your food cravings may increase psychological stress and raise the hormonal levels, i.e., cortisol, leptin, adrenaline, etc. This may consequently lead to increasing your desire for food high in fat and sugar.
- Don’t get obsessive. Some people may start calculating every last micronutrient to have a balanced diet. You just have to do a quick scan of the nutrients included in your meal.
- If you are susceptible to an obsessive eating pattern or have a history of an eating disorder, your food log may give you guilt, fear, or shame, so go for writing a food diary only after consulting your doctor.
Although keeping a food journal is the most effective way to record your food intake, you can also try making notes on your computer or a digital device. Or even use a diet tracking website or app such as Lose it, My Fitness Pal, etc.
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