How to Start a Food Journal

If you’re looking to lose weight, you may want to consider starting a food journal. Studies suggest that dieters who use a food journal lose twice as much weight as those who don’t. So how do you start a food journal? This short guide can help you through the process.

What Do You Keep Track of in a Food Journal?

  • Calorie content and nutritional information for all food and beverages you eat. Always add everything, including any food tasted while cooking. It’s easy to miscalculate your calorie count by neglecting even small things. It’s especially important to note your beverages as well. Unless you only drink water, you may find yourself getting more calories from your beverages than your food!
  • Feelings. Jot down how you feel when you’re eating. It can help you identify the factors causing you to overeat.
  • Nutrition information. It’s not only important to keep track of your calories, but to find out where those calories are coming from. By tracking your protein, carbs, fiber and other nutrients, you can look for patterns in your eating habits and find out where you may need to change your diet.
  • Meal start and end times. This can help you find patterns in the timing of your eating. Are you eating too often? How long do you take to eat your meals? You may find that you’re eating too fast and your body doesn’t have the time to process your nutrients properly. In addition, eating too fast can cause you not to fill full at the proper time, allowing you to overeat.
  • Other factors. Keep note of where and with whom you eat with. You may find that you overeat only under certain circumstances.

Write It Down

You don’t need to write each entry as you eat, however it can be easier to remember everything if you write it down when it’s fresh in your memory rather than trying to remember what you ate at the end of the day.

Always write down everything you eat. Missing even just small things can lead to huge gaps in your calorie count if you miss many of them. The best way to hold you accountable for your eating is by making sure you are aware of everything you put in your body.

As you eat certain foods regularly, you will start to memorize the calorie and nutritional information allowing you to keep better track of your food intake mentally. However, be aware to still write it down no matter how well you can keep track mentally.

Once you start telling yourself that you no longer need to write it down, it is a slippery slope to falling back into bad eating habits because you are no longer holding yourself accountable.

Make sure your food journal is easily accessible and nearby at all times. It’s easy to forget to write down your food entries if your journal is not handy when you eat. Keeping it nearby makes it easier to remember to write down everything.

Set Goals

Set short-term goals using your food journal. Once you reach these goals, make sure to reward yourself. Overcoming a major lifestyle change like losing weight can be a daunting task, and breaking it down into smaller goals can make it seem easier. Also, by rewarding yourself when you reach these smaller tasks can be a good motivator to reach further, more difficult tasks.

Making a food journal is not a difficult process and can be a valuable tool to help you lose weight. A food journal helps you hold yourself accountable for all of the food you eat.


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