Trying to become healthy? Want to change your lifestyle? Thinking of shedding weight? The easiest way to incorporate changes in your life and monitor them is by maintaining a food journal. Just like your diary contains your little secrets and provides you with a sense of satisfaction at the end of your day, A food journal helps you feel emotionally stable concerning food and motivates you to keep up your new dietary achievements by adopting healthier eating choices each day. It can also be a really useful tool if you’re attempting to figure out which foods can have negative consequences for your body and want to lose weight.
Although writing down everything you consume in a day might seem overwhelming, we are here to break it down for you! If you’re planning to switch to a healthier lifestyle, this guide is for you!
What is A Food Journal?
You can use a food journal as a tool to record your daily intake of food and liquids at specific times.
Additionally, your food journal should contain components such as-
What did you eat? Note down what you are and in what quantity to calculate your nutrition intake and figure out what you need to drop and what you need to increase. Your calories must be well-proportioned between carbs, fats, and proteins.
How many Calories did you consume? you might also want to include a calorie count for the foods that you consumed. This might help keep in mind how much you are consuming and how many calories you need to achieve your goals such as weight loss
Who did you eat with? Doing this may make you more aware of how consuming food with other people impacts your eating habits. Generally, people tend to eat more when they are surrounded by others. In some cases, you may also consume less when you are in the company of certain individuals.
How Much Time Did You Spend Eating? This becomes important to know when you are trying to practice mindful eating. Eating slowly and feeling your food allows you greater control over your appetite cues. You will be able to appreciate your hunger as well as the feeling of satisfaction and fullness.
When and Where did you eat? Knowing your meal timings as well as the amount of time you are spending consuming each meal
How did you feel before, during, and after each meal or snack? This can help understand the emotions involved in binge eating and also your general emotional relationship with food. Usually, people who stress eat associate food with comfort, and maintaining a food journal will help in monitoring these situations by identifying the source of stress and consciously altering your response to it. You might notice that the anxiety and stress you experience before eating, that is emotions that triggered your eating response might be subdued as you consume your comfort food. However, more often than not, a little while after this manner of consumption the negative emotions double up and come back which traps you in a vicious cycle of emotional eating. These habits tend to create a very negative relationship of guilt, stress, and anxiety with food and interfere with your mental health leading to the development of various eating disorders.
Doctors and nutritionists may occasionally advise keeping a food journal since they can use it to learn more about your eating patterns. They may also be used by a medical practitioner to identify the foods or ingredients you could be allergic to.
What is the next step?
The next step, after creating a food journal and assessing your eating patterns, is to set goals for yourself. These goals may be divided into three different periods i.e weekly, monthly, and quarterly. The goals can range from caloric restrictions to the incorporation of one nutrient group more than others. It may also include increasing the time you take to eat and the company that you associate with while eating. Setting frequent parameters and assessing yourself on those will keep you motivated for the long haul and help to incorporate small and steady changes in your lifestyle. Sudden changes are never sustainable.
Keeping a food journal can be upsetting for some people and lead to negative emotions or obsessive thoughts. If this applies to you, you might better experiment with other techniques, such as mindful eating. You can also begin to heal these negative emotions using meditation, yoga, and overall mindfulness.