There are multiple benefits of keeping a food journal.

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? 

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11 Comments

  1. Christine Everyday on March 16, 2016 at 7:08 am

    I really need to do this. It is such a good idea to track not only what you eat, but how it made you feel. I have a lot of issues with bloating and doing this would probably help me figure out what it’s linked to. My best guess is dairy, but I should pay closer attention. Thanks for the idea!

  2. Heather @ Simply Save on March 16, 2016 at 7:54 am

    I do need to try this. I have terrible eating habits that I know I need to change and a food journal would really force me to face it.

  3. Emelia @ Dream Big & Buy the S on March 16, 2016 at 9:08 am

    The My Fitness Pal app overwhelms me, but writing down what I eat could definitely be manageable and very insightful. Great tip Sheryl!

  4. Lauren on March 16, 2016 at 10:36 am

    These are great tips! I like your point about tracking food intolerance and emotional eating. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Brittany on March 16, 2016 at 10:41 am

    I don’t keep a food journal per se but I’ve been on weight watchers and tracked everything I ate and drank. It was so revealing. I actually think it’s really good for parents to keep journals for their children as well. Oftentimes they have a lot of the same issues as adults and it’s so much easier to identify them when you have something to refer to. Great post!

  6. Katie Arnold on March 16, 2016 at 11:22 am

    YES! YES YES!! I haven’t been good about tracking lately but for awhile I found this SO helpful in order to figure out how didn’t foods made me feel! It just lets you be SO MUCH MORE AWARE of your body!

  7. Anne @ Love the Here and Now on March 16, 2016 at 11:44 am

    When I started Weight Watchers I started tracking my food. I loved it as it gave me a great idea as to what I was actually eating. I was such a mindless eater, snacking here and there never really fully realizing that it all added up. I highly recommend keeping track!

  8. Jill @ RunEatSnap on March 16, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    Journaling can be a very good eye opening exercise! I don’t recommend it long term as it can get tedious and lose it’s purpose depending on the client or individual. But definitely a good way to make you realize those little bites of things here and there do add up!

  9. daniela_vaughan on March 16, 2016 at 10:33 pm

    I have just started training for a half marathon in January (and another next June) and have thought about starting a food journal because I eat like a 22-year-old frat boy. I bet there are some great apps too!

  10. Crystal @ Dreams, etc. on March 16, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    I love this! It’s so great to think of reasons why a food journal is helpful other than just tracking calories. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Rachel @ STCL on March 20, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    Journaling is so eye-opening! I’ll admit sometimes I’m tempted to cheat in the entry by leaving a snack or something out, but it really puts things into perspective! Things really add up with calories!

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