Do you know what you have eaten today? Do you remember what you had yesterday?Food journals do not have to be just for those wanting to lose weight. Although most often equated with keeping track of points or calories, many people benefit from taking the time to acknowledge what they have taken in on an average day. Life has made many of us mindless eaters. Even for those of us eating healthy and clean, it can become easy to not fully acknowledge the food we have taken in. Exactly how large was that drink? Did you have any vegetables at all? Keeping a food journal not only allows one to view the amount of food but also what type of food has been eaten. As I have kept a variety of food journals over the years, I was often amazed at often how little I ate. There would be days I would barely eat any fruit and other days when I didn’t drink enough. Over the past few weeks, I have discovered many clients who self report not eating until early or even late afternoon. It is only after discussing their eating habits that they discover the poor nutrition they are taking in. Poor nutrition, either in the way of not enough calories or the wrong type of calories, affects every area of life. If you are not eating until lunch time, your body has likely gone without food for 12 hours or longer. In addition to determining food calories and intake, food journals can help discover other significant issues. Food Intolerances or Allergies: When not keeping a journal, it can be difficult to remember exactly what was eaten and how it made you feel. By keeping track of food, it becomes easier to associate potential food issues such as bloating, nausea or pain. Many doctors will encourage an elimination diet of food but using a journal can also help narrow down items which could be the culprit. Underlying Health Issues: By keeping track of calorie and food intake, one can become aware of unusual weight gain or loss that should not be occurring. It was after two months of keeping track of my diet and food intake along with exercise routine that I discovered a 15 pound weight gain that should not have occurred. After sharing this with my physician, she ran bloodwork to discover I had hypothyroidism. I’m uncertain of how long it would have taken to have received this diagnosis if I did not have this information. Unacknowledged Emotions: Keeping a food journal often helps one to become aware of why they are or aren’t eating. Does eating only occur after work or when stressed. Is there a regular time of the month when there is emotional eating? Are there long periods of time when eating does not occur? Keeping a food journal does not have to be difficult but it does need to be what feels best for the individual. It can be done via pen and paper or through a variety of cell phone apps.
Have you found value in keeping a food journal? Are you aware of what you are eating?