Monday, September 26, 2011

Keeping a Food Journal

If you are looking to loose weight or just make healthier choices for your body, keeping a food journal can be a powerful tool to assist you. Keeping track of what you are eating will help bring awareness to your eating habits and patterns. To keep track of meals, snacks and drinks that you consume, keep a small notepad in your purse, or keep a log on your phone, laptop or ipad.. whatever is most convenient for you to use throughout your day. You can even purchase food journals like the Diet Minder from book stores. The food diary process is designed to be fun and informative. It will help you recognize poor habits or foods that you react to and will help you find connections between what you eat and how you feel.

What to keep track of:
  • The Date
  • Time of day
  • What foods – What foods were eaten, how were they prepared and in what quantity. Be sure to include all ingredients. Be sure to include beverages and include misc items such as gum/candy.
  • Hunger level (on a scale of 0-5) at time of meal/snack
  • Meal situation – The place and activity surrounding meal/snack. Indicate home cooked versus eating out, etc.
  • Sensations – Indicate emotional and physical feelings, mood etc.
  • Indicate any medications or supplements you are taking and when
  • You can also include any physical exercise you do

The most important part of a food journal is noting how you feel physically and emotionally before, during and after each meal, snack or beverage. At first it may feel odd or you may not be sure what you are feeling. That is okay! Just write what you feel. Physical symptoms will be bodily sensations and may be a little bit easier to recognize than emotional ones.

Here are tips to get you started:

• Clues for physical imbalance: headaches, stomach pain, muscle cramps, coughing, fatigue, insomnia, restlessness, shakiness, muscle weakness, poor concentration, pallor.

• Clues for emotional imbalance: anxious, bored, scared, mad, sad, depressed, scattered, restless, irritable, agitated, hyper, guilt.

• Clues for physical balance: bright eyes, hunger, stamina, natural deep breathing, high energy, restful sleep, focus, alertness, strength, good attention span, clear complexion and good color.

• Clues for emotional balance: confident, excited, energized, humorous, happy, interested, focused, calm, relaxed, easygoing, patient.

Many people do not realize how much they eat until they start to write it all down. Try not to let the journal create negative feelings or feelings of guilt. Instead use it to hold yourself accountable for what you put in your mouth. If it helps, partner up with a friend and share your journals with each other at the end of each week. Sometimes knowing that someone else will read everything you’ve eaten is motivation enough to stick to healthy choices!

If you forget to write down a meal, just keep going. It’s all fine. Just keep writing!

Keep it Fresh!