Whether you are a member of weight watchers, trying to loose weight, or just trying to maintain a healthy way of living, food diaries can be very helpful. By recording every bite you eat in a journal you will get an accurate view of exactly what types of foods you eat on a daily basis and how much of them you consume. This will allow you to see hidden calories seeping into your diet (ex-soft drinks, juice) and make you accountable. It may also be able to explain why you are gaining weight or are unable to lose it. As a result food journaling can also help you to choose foods because you are truly hungry instead of out of emotion.
By journaling I am able to eat intuitively. Intuitive eating is listening to your body to choose your foods instead of relying on external regimes and rules. Today people are so diet obsessed that many people have moved past this concept by attempting to adhere to rigid calorie limits or by deeming certain foods off-limits. By putting these restraints on yourself you inevitably want to rebel against them and you begin to crave more calories and the very foods which you are "not supposed" to be eating. When I track what I eat in a food journal I am more likely to listen to my hunger/energy needs when making choices about what to eat. It also really does help keep me accountable of what I allow myself to eat. I notice when I go a day or so without tracking I eat more than I usually do and more than I need to.
In case that wasn't enough here are 10 benefits to food journaling I found online.
1. Allows you to monitor your caloric intake. – Losing weight is a simple equation – take in fewer calories than you expend. Monitoring your caloric intake is the first step in lowering it.
2. Encourages you to focus on your food choices. – More often than not we overeat because we are focusing on something other than what we are eating. Writing down what you eat in a food diary forces you to focus on what you are doing
3. Provides a record you can share with your health care provider. -- Your health care provider can look at your food diary and provide insight and information on what you can do to eat healthier. Also, what you are eating may be impacting your health in other ways.
4. Helps you control the urge to binge. – Knowing you are going to have to write down what you eat can stop you from reaching for the second helping of potato chips.
5. Allows you to track your progress. – A food diary can serve as evidence of how far you have come in this journey. It also feels great to look back and see you are eating better today than you did days, weeks or years ago.
6. Encourages mindful eating. – Writing down what you eat encourages you to think about what you are eating. The more you think, the less and better you eat.
7. Creates a means of evaluating the connection between what you eat and how you feel. – You can use a food diary to examine the circumstances and feelings which trigger overeating. Once you identify the causes you can begin doing something about them.
8. Helps you be sure you are getting enough of each food group. -- It is important to eat a balanced diet. A food diary can provide clues as to what foods you have been neglecting and need to add to your diet.
9. Assists you in acknowledging the reality of how much you eat. – Keeping a food diary will help you confront the truth about how much you eat. Once you stop kidding yourself about how much you eat, you can begin making the necessary changes.
10. Reinforces your commitment to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. – Each time you make an entry in your food diary you are expressing your intention and desire to do what needs to be done in order to live well.
Do you keep a food journal? What do you like about it?