Food journals work!
When changing your eating habits you need stability, accountability, motivation, record of what works, etc. Food journals give you all of that and more!
I personally use a food journal when I have a fitness/weight loss goal in mind. When my pants fit a little too snug, when my body feels “off” (and I’m feeling sick, or sluggish, or even depressed), when I OD on sugar…habitually… (I’m human…and I have a problem…first step is admitting right?), after one too many nights of dining out. These are times that I reach for the trusty food journal. My food journal hasn’t failed me yet! (Although, I must admit I have failed my food journal…)
Q:What the heck is a food journal?
A: Whatever you want it to be!
Do you keep a journal? Have you ever? Is your journal the same as it was when you were 12? Is your journal/diary the same as your siblings (come on, you know you have taken a peak at someone else’s diary…)?
Food journals are like any other kind of journal or diary = Unique to the individual using them. They can be uber detailed, or scribbled onto a legal pad. No matter the level of detail, a food journal is serves as a record of everything that your put in your mouth. Scary thought? Maybe…but…
Are you a facts & figures type of person? My husband is. When he keeps a food journal he figures everything out…all the way down to percentages of food groups consumed each day!
Or are you like me? You like the idea of organization but ALL those numbers are just TOO much to keep up with!
Doesn’t matter! Either way you CAN BE SUCCESSFUL with a food journal!
Q: What information should I include?
A. Record of EVERY food item that crosses those beautiful lips of yours!
The most detailed food journal is USELESS, unless you are TRUTHFUL! Be truthful with yourself. There is a reason you are thinking about starting a food journal right? Always remember your goals.
Do you want to lose weight? Eat more protein? Drink more water? Stick to a vegan or vegetarian menu? Do you need balance in your eating habits?
Don’t lose sight of why you are doing this. With those goals in mind be sure that you include these facts for every entry:
- Time of meal
- Number of Portions
- Food Item
Those are the basics. You can begin that simply. You can also become more detailed, like my husband, by adding these facts to your entry:
- Number of calories
- Grams of proteins
- Grams of carbohydrates
- Grams of fat
- Grams of sugar
- Ounces of water
Q: How will a food journal benefit me?
A: Three words: Accountability, Reality Check, Motivation*
*(ok, so that was 4 words…three ideas?!? You get the point!)
As a personal trainer, I have seen the importance of accountability. I know you’ve done it…we all have…
You get ready for the gym. Suddenly the phone rings. You get tied up on a phone call. Well, it was a nice thought, but since my routine was interrupted by that phone call I will just skip the gym today….I will get back into the swing of things tomorrow…
If you are anything like me, tomorrow may come. Or it may come a couple months from now. Or it may never come. Who cares?
Now take that same scenario and add accountability…
You get ready to meet your workout partner at the gym for your 8:30am, regularly scheduled, workout. Suddenly the phone rings. You explain to the person on the line that you are on your way to an appointment and you will have to return their call in an hour when you finish up…You head out the door, make it to the gym on time, hit the gym hard and leave feeling accomplished.
Accountability can make all the difference. Food journals are like workout partners. Not only are you putting that food in your mouth, you are now responsible to write it down. This simple act can make a huge difference in the way that we perceive food.
My reality is….I eat bad shit. Not all the time, not tons of it, but I still eat bad…on the reg. Keeping a food journal is like someone standing beside me saying, “You really gonna eat that piece of chocolate cake? Did you see how crappy you ate yesterday??”
“Knowing” what we have eaten, and seeing it written down in black and white are TWO totally different things!!!
There’s power in documenting your diet! Power and control, but first there’s reality… IN YO FACE…saying THIS is what you are putting in your body. This is the fuel that you have chosen.
One good choice leads to another. If you make your workout, chances are you will eat healthier that day. If you eat healthier, chances are you will make your workout. When I make it to my yoga mat, I find time to meditate. When I meditate, I find time for yoga. Good things….good vibes…good foods…good brings more good….makes sense right?
Food journals can keep you motivated. Along with my food journal entries I keep track of my progress. What progress am I making towards my goal? (Always keep those goals in sight…there is a reason you picked up your food journal) If my goal is weight loss, I record my daily weights. If my goal is water consumption I record my intake with each entry as well as each day. If my goal is balance, I go all in…I will then keep up with all the details and numbers that my husband utilizes on his food journal worksheet. Use your goals to help you decide what information you will keep record of.
Here’s a FREE (detailed) FOOD JOURNAL TEMPLATE for Excel: