Food Journal

Write Your Way to a Healthier Body

You may not be a big fan of pen and paper in this day and age of apps and digitisation. But what if I told you that using a pen and paper for 10-15 minutes a day for as little as 30 days could help you drop a couple of dress sizes? Sounds like magic? It’s very achievable. The simple act of recording every bite you take, will deter you from eating unhealthy and change your outlook towards food for the better.

Food Journal

What are the Benefits?

  • It provides a sense of accountability to yourself, as it heightens your awareness about what, why, when and how much you’re eating.
  • It’s like a ledger-book that takes your daily diet into account. The insights you will gain on reviewing the journal regularly will help you to identify and change undesirable food habits.
  • It acts as a splash of chilled water on your reflexes of grabbing unhealthy food out of habit or craving for unhealthy food.
  • It can help you identify patterns of bingeing, overeating, skipping meals, etc. You can ascertain reasons for such patterns by keeping a track of the time and the emotional state that you experienced while eating.

How to Prepare One?

  • Select a suitable journal. You could either print a food diary from myriad options available online, download a food journal app on your phone or buy a blank notebook and design your own format as per your goals. Some examples of the popular mobile apps to choose from are: MyFitnessPal, LoseIt, SparkPeople and FatSecret.
  • Make sure that the format looks appealing enough for you to remain engaged in making regular entries. You should divide it into smaller sections rather than making it an uninspiringly tedious text which you may not revisit.
  • Write down the date, time, place and everything you eat.
  • Record your weight at the start of making notes and at the end of each week.
  • Leave extra spaces on each page to record your comments/observations about everything that you eat.
  • Make note of everything that you eat soon after consumption. Remember, writing down as often as you eat will not only help you record every detail precisely, but will also make you more conscious of what you just ate. In fact, you might get so weary of penning down these details so often, that you may end up foregoing the unnecessary extras!
  • Write down quantities that you consume accurately. Have your own measuring units such as cups, bowls, various spoon sizes, kitchen measuring scale or just fist size. Guess-work will lead to miscalculating your total food intake and hence, will be an incorrect indicator of your daily intake of calories.
  • Note down calories If you have the patience to ascertain the calorific values of each food and total them up at the end of the day. It may be a tad bit tedious, but helps majorly when you’re trying to lose weight. There are various mobile apps available that can help you track calories easily.
  • Track your water intake throughout the day separately. It will give you an insight into whether you’re hydrating adequately or are below par.
  • Make a note about the activity you are engaged in while you’re eating or drinking, such as watching TV, attending office meetings, watching a movie in a hall, during phone calls, while driving, etc.
  • Make a mention of your feelings before and after eating. Write down whether you felt bored, irritated, depressed, stressed, angry, lonely or just hungry when you ate. Again, make a note about how you felt after eating, such as satiated, guilty, bloated, still hungry, etc. Reviewing how your emotions affected your eating can help you change your eating habits for the better.
  • Be brutally honest while writing. No one else needs to be privy to your journal other than you. So, write down every word with absolute earnestness. By hiding some information, you will only undermine your own effort to improve.
  • Revisit your journal regularly. Review each day’s entries at the end of the day to prepare a little better for the next day. Review the journal at the end of each week to identify eating triggers or overeating patterns that you may be able to overcome by planning for the upcoming week.

How to Review One?

  • Identify the patterns in your food journal by asking yourself some questions, such as:
    •        Have I been eating just due to boredom and not hunger?
    •        Have I been eating mindlessly while doing other activities like watching TV?
Food Journal
    •        Have I been giving in to cravings for certain type of foods?
    •        If I am feeling low on energy almost all day long, is my diet lacking in nutrients like proteins and good fats, as and this may be leading to my bingeing on simple carbs.
    •        Am I eating enough fruits and vegetables every day?
    •        Am I hydrating adequately?
    •        Am I skipping meals regularly and then later in the day, devouring wrong foods due to overpowering hunger pangs?
    •        Am I eating to get over stress or depression?

  • Look for specific patterns and plan small and realistic changes to rectify them. Some instances:
    •        You feel hungry in the evening and reach out for cookies. Not satisfied with 1 or 2, you reach out for more and end up eating 5-6 of them. This becomes a daily pattern as you notice through your diary entries. Get a satiating and protein-rich snack ready ahead of time which will keep you feeling full for long time. A snack like Greek yogurt with nuts and fresh fruit pieces is one such option.
    •        You eat mindlessly while you watch TV and end up overeating. So, to change this habit, switch off the TV, sit at the dining table and eat mindfully without any distraction. Try following this everyday till it becomes a habit.
    •        You have skipped lunch due to back to back meetings, and a rushed and inadequate breakfast is all that you’ve eaten. So, the moment you reach home in the evening, you’re so famished that you junk your tummy with anything and everything stocked at home. This binge is followed by a guilt trip. To break this unhealthy pattern, plan your meals for such days in advance. Carry lunch and small and healthy snack boxes filled with protein and good fat foods along. Squeeze in your lunch in the first break that you get and eat your snacks in the mini breaks.

  • Every time you make a positive change, pat yourself for the good job done. You could highlight that entry with a star to make you feel good and to be motivated to make more progress every time you look at it.
  • Keep writing consistently till you get over the major unhealthy eating patterns. The habit of noting everything down regularly will help you track your progress and keep you motivated to improve further.

The simple habit of maintaining a food journal can inspire you to eat healthier with fewer calories to reach your goal of losing weight soon. It is an excellent tool that can help you to gain more control over your diet and fast-track your progress to a healthier lifestyle.

So, just grab a pen and a diary, and watch your health perk up and your waistline shrink!