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12 Months to a Healthier You: How to Keep a Food Journal

By Sara Butler

Food Journaling

In your pursuit of a healthier 2022, you may want to think about starting a food journal. Yes, it may seem a little silly to keep a running log of all you’re eating, but it also can be eye-opening. And in the pursuit of getting healthy, a food journal is a beneficial tool to help you stay on track and work toward your goals.

Don’t feel daunted by the idea of writing down everything that passes between your lips. We’ve come up with a few easy tips to help you start a food journal this month. In the end, you may realize that it’s a lot easier than it may seem.

A Food Journal: What Is It?

If you want to start a food journal, then it’s a good idea to start with what it is!

To put it simply, a food journal is a way to keep track of what you drink and eat throughout your day. You log the foods and beverages you consume along with how much of it you had, what time you had it, if you had it alone or with another food, and how you felt before you had it, while you had it, and afterward.

Dietitians and doctors often recommend food journals because they’re a great way to gain an insight into your eating habits. So, if you’re struggling with a certain aspect of your health related to what you eat and drink, then it can help you to see the big picture and identify what is going on.

There’s no length of time that’s considered correct to journal your food. Some do it for a few weeks while others do it for longer. But if this is the year you get healthy, try it one day at a time, one week at a time, one month at a time. The more you do it, the more insight you’ll gain. It all depends on your goals in conjunction with food journaling, so simply do what will help you the most.

Are There Benefits to Food Journals?

Food journals have been used for quite some time and there have been several benefits linked to using them, including:

  • Building healthy habits - When you track your food, then it makes you more aware of your eating habits, including helping you to identify eating habits that may not be healthy. Food journaling can also help you from mindlessly grazing and be more conscious of what you’re eating.
  • Promoting a healthy weight - Many people use food journals to help them reach and maintain a healthy weight. A food journal that helps you to keep track of calories is a great tool to help you in your endeavor by simply making you aware of what you’re eating.
  • Recognizing food sensitivities - If you’re struggling with health issues such as allergies or irritable bowel syndrome, keeping track of your food intake is a great way to help you identify any food sensitivities you may have so you can stay away from certain things that induce unpleasant symptoms.

How to Start a Food Journal

Now that you know what a food journal is for and how it can help, it’s time to start one! You can easily get started by downloading an app on your phone or buying a small notebook. Then you can get started by:

  • Tracking your food - You can do it as you go or wait until the end of the day to write everything down, but you’ll have better luck keeping an accurate journal if you write things down as you go, including the time. If you are unable, simply keep notes so you can go back at the end of the day and write a more accurate report.
  • Write it all down - Did you have a small piece of chocolate? Three Cheetos in the break room? No matter how little of something you had, make sure to write it down -- all of it. Those small moments of snacking can add up to quite a lot.
  • Be particular - When you track your food in your journal, make it as detailed as possible. The most important detail to keep track of is portion size. It’s a good idea to measure out your food so you can gain a more accurate picture of what you’re eating over the course of the day.
  • Keep tabs on your mood - Many people tend to focus on what they eat or drink when they keep a food journal, but it’s also really important to keep track of your mood and how each meal impacts it. That’s why you should write down how you’re feeling before you eat, while you’re eating, and after you eat. This can be helpful when you’re trying to get a handle on emotional eating as well.

The Bottom Line

Keeping a food journal isn’t a good fit for every person, but it is something that is worth trying out to help you build healthier eating habits. If you can use the tips we’ve discussed here, even for a few weeks, then this can be the year you finally take control of your health by improving the things you eat.

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