Studies have proven, those who keep a food journal are more likely to make the life style changes needed to lose weight and keep it off for life.
The best food journal is the one that works for you. Some keep a spiral notebook, others journal with their cell phones, some journal online. Find what works for you. The log I used is at the bottom of this page, copy and use.
Tips for Food Journaling
Consistent and mindful food journaling can have an extremely positive effect on maintaining healthy body weight. In a study by the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, it was shown that food journaling not only had a dramatic effect on weight loss but also impacted long-term maintenance due to behavioral modifications. Food journaling is a method of both accountability of your food choices and discovery of your true relationship with food. By truthfully and accurately recording what you eat, you may “get real” about what, how much, and how often you eat and drink. A journal can also be useful for connecting food preferences to emotions and reducing poor food choices that occur when “triggered” by a certain mood. With all this information written in a journal, you can figure out solutions to create a wholesome relationship with food and become motivated to eat for your health. Below are various tips to help you find the most beneficial method for food journaling.
How to Record:
1. Be honest.
2. Record everything you eat and drink immediately.
3. Record the amount or portion of food that you are eating: (general description: 1—4oz. hamburger with 1 tbsp. mayo and 1 tbsp. ketchup and/or exact calorie count if desired; for more information about portion size, click here.)
4. Note what you’re doing while you’re eating — driving, watching TV, etc.
5. Note where the meal is taking place: at home, in the car, at a restaurant
6. Note if the meal is by yourself or with others
7. Describe how you felt immediately before eating: angry, sad, happy, nervous, starving, bored?
8. Describe how you felt immediately after eating: satisfied, full, hungry, upset
How to interpret your food journal:
1. Determine your motivation for eating. Are you truly hungry when you eat? If not, are you eating for emotional reasons?
2. Compare the types of food and portions you eat with the food pyramid. Do you eat well-balanced meals with good serving sizes? Do some areas have room for improvement?
3. Take note of your eating habits. Do you eat regularly, or do you eat a little and then overindulge later?
4. Use the above as guidelines to determine your problem areas, and brainstorm ways to repair those problems.
Example modifications after journal interpretation:
1. If you notice that you may be an emotional eater, especially when stressed or depressed, consider healthier alternatives like taking a walk, meditation, or journaling.
2. If portion sizes are large, consider using smaller plates and cups. Also consider using smaller reusable lunch containers. Order ½ portion sizes or kids meals.
3. If eating at regular intervals throughout the day is challenging due to time constraints and a busy lifestyle, consider bringing quick grab-and-go snacks or meals. For example, always keep a small container of nuts or trail mix in the car or in your laptop bag.
4. If you notice over-indulgence or unhealthy choices: switch to a healthier version of the same food. For example, choose baked or grilled skinless chicken over fried chicken.
5. If an unhealthy food choice is enjoyable:
What worked for me was a simple log that I kept on the fridge. Below is a copy of it.