Document Your Dinner – Why You Should Keep a Food Journal

Picture of Food and Journal

When you’re trying to lose weight, one of the biggest obstacles is keeping yourself accountable on what you eat. The easiest way to solve this dilemma is to keep a food journal. While writing in a journal may seem like a very Carrie Bradshaw thing to do, you’ll find that keeping track of your meals and snacks can help you lose weight, control your portion size and pinpoint any problem areas you might have.

Of course, to be effective, you need to know what to write in your journal.

First, write down everything you eat or drink. Every meal, snack and drink should be written down. While the occasional candy bar doesn’t seem like much, when combined with the rest of your daily intake of food, it could add up to a lot of excess calories.

Document how much you eat or drink. Portion control is a huge part of weight control. There’s a big difference between two slices of pizza and six. Write down everything and be honest about it (i.e., 4 oz chicken, ½ cup rice, one apple, etc.). Remember, the only person you’ll be lying to is yourself.

Don’t forget about additives, flavorings and condiments. Oils, marinades and condiments are all going to add to your daily calorie intake. Be sure to write down the ketchup, salad dressing and barbecue sauce you added to your meals.

Keeping track of the time and place where you’re eating will help you figure out when you’re most likely to binge or if there’s a certain place that’s makes you cave in to cravings. These details will help you determine your eating patterns so you can make adjustments if need be.

What are your thoughts before, during and after you eat? Jot down a word or short phrase to describe your overall mood or thoughts. We don’t always eat when we’re hungry. Sometimes we eat when we’re lonely, anxious or sad. Writing down your feelings can help you identify triggering events that leads to eating so that you can find healthier ways of coping with those emotions.

What you eat also depends on who you’re with. There are certain friends and family that bring out the worst in us. Maybe they can eat a huge meal followed up with an overindulgent dessert without gaining an ounce, but that doesn’t mean you can. Write down who you’re dining with so you can see if anyone in particular brings out the worst in you.

Eating, while necessary for survival, should be an enjoyable experience. So why do you rush through your meals so quickly? Unless you’re in the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest, there’s no need for speed when it comes to chowing down. Keep track of how fast you’re eating and learn to slow it down. Give your stomach a chance to send signals to your brain that you’re full. You’ll start eating less over a longer stretch of time and start enjoying your food more.

Writing down everything about your eating and drinking habits, as well as when and where you eat, who you eat with and how you feel when you’re eating, might seem a little tedious. But if you do it, and you’re completely honest with yourself about what you’re eating and how much, you’ll be able to determine what’s sabotaging your diet and preventing you from losing weight.

To find out more about keeping a food journal, call us for an appointment.