eating habits

Food Journal: An Eye Opening Experience

Woman writing in journalWhat would you do if you could travel into the future?

If you were ruler of the world, what things would you banish absolutely for all time?

Invent and describe a new food…

Did you just have a flashback to looking up at the chalkboard and noticing your latest elementary school journal prompt? Maybe you gave your wicked old teacher a dirty look as you groaned under your breath. Maybe you jumped for joy (on the inside of course–doing that in class would have been social suicide). And maybe you just looked at it as another stupid assignment that was a waste of your time.

Whatever your reaction, those journal prompts were good for you. They let you use your imagination. They taught you how to think outside the box. And they helped you gain a better understanding of yourself.

Believe it or not, a food journal can do a lot of the same things for you. Although let’s be honest: “food journal” sounds kind of boring in comparison with “food diary.” Throwing in the word “diary” makes it sound much more glamorous and appealing. And it makes it okay to throw in a dirty diet secret every now and then:

  • You just ate a half gallon of chocolate ice cream while binge watching Netflix? Put it in your journal and it’s laced with accusations and guilt. Put it in your diary and suddenly it becomes a night legends are made of.
  • You went a whole day without cheating on your diet. Journal: Meh. Diary: Pretty sure you just achieved superhero status!

While it doesn’t really matter whether you call it journal or a diary, using one of them to record your daily food intake does matter. Unless of course you want to be writing in your journal or diary from the perspective of “fat girl” for the rest of your life.

Your choice.

What Is A Food Diary?

You probably have an old diary lying around full of some of your best-kept secrets: major crushes, make-out sessions, and that embarrassing time you “accidentally” wandered into the boy’s locker room in high school.

Thankfully, a food diary will have a lot less potential to embarrass you in the future. Instead, it becomes a powerful tool in your battle of the bulge.

A food diary is used to track EVERYTHING that you eat and drink during the day. Its purpose is to help you become more aware of what you are putting in your body, and the results tend to be pretty amazing!

What To Include

It may seem overwhelming, but if you go in with a plan and know what to track, your food journal will become more effective than you ever thought possible.

So what should you put in your food journal?

  • EVERYTHING you eat or drink. And it should be recorded IMMEDIATELY.
  • Record how you feel and what you’re doing while eating. This will help you watch for emotional triggers and behaviors that lead to unhealthy eating habits.
  • Add a section for exercise so you can log the calories you burn along with the calories you consume.
  • BE HONEST. For reals. If you can’t be honest, your food journal will end up as another failed diet attempt. The whole point of the darn thing is to help you understand and improve your eating, and in order for that to happen, honesty is key.

At the end of the day, take time to look through your journal and see if you were on track with your goals. See how your emotions affected your eating.

And if you really do give it an honest effort, you’re likely to see some pretty impressive results. So impressive, in fact, that you might be able to double your weight loss.

Open journal, cup of coffee and apple near laptop

Food Journal: Your Personalized Self-Help Weight Loss Book

A food journal can help your diet in so many ways that it seems silly to not take advantage of its benefits:

  1. Helps You Know Exactly What You’re Eating: If you write it down as soon as you eat it, there’s no way you’ll forget anything that goes in your body.
  2. Helps You Track Calories: By writing down EVERYTHING you eat and drink, you will have an accurate depiction of how many calories are going into your body every day.
  3. Helps You Understand Portion Control: You can’t just write “chicken” in your food journal. That’s way too vague to be helpful. Instead, you need to know the amount of chicken and how it was prepared so you can account for every calorie you put into your body.
  4. Helps You Identify Your Diet Dangers: By including what time you eat everything, you’ll start to notice the times you mindlessly snack and the times you tend to binge on unhealthy foods.
  5. Helps You See How Far You’ve Come: Looking back in your food journal will help you see what you’ve accomplished already. This may not seem necessary in the beginning, but if you’re ever stuck in a weight loss rut, you can look back and try to duplicate patterns and menus from successful diet weeks.
  6. Helps You Plan Meals and Snacks: Once you start writing down everything you eat and drink, you instantly become more conscious of what you put into your mouth. You’ll probably notice yourself thinking ahead to plan meals and snacks that look good in your diary.
  7. Helps You Stay on Track: Being honest in your food journal is essential for success. That honesty makes you extremely aware of your food and beverage choices. Your awareness keeps you on the fast track to success.
  8. Helps You Be Accountable: By committing to write everything down, you become accountable to yourself for every food choice you make. So you ate a whole package of Oreos? Own it. Record it. And learn from it. Accountability is key when it comes to weight loss.
  9. Helps You Be More Mindful of Food Choices: Let’s get back to that package of Oreos. That’s the equivalent of a food diary walk of shame. Chances are pretty good that you don’t want to have any evidence of that moment of weakness. Knowing that you have to write it down makes it so much easier for you to stop with two or three of those evil little cookies.
  10. Helps You Lose Weight: Bottom line: food journals work. (Food diaries work too). Logging your food and drink choices are one of the simplest things you can do to take the weight loss bull by the horns and start seeing the weight loss success you’ve only ever written about in your diary.

Image of hand writing in a journal with food blurred in background

Wrapping it Up

Don’t forget that a food diary or food journal can come in different forms. You can go all old school and actually use a pen and paper, or you could try one of the many app options to make it quick and easy.

Whatever option you pick, just pick one, and start it soon. You won’t regret it!

So… let’s get back to those journal prompts:

What would you do if you could travel into the future? Easy. Check out the new and improved (translation: healthy and skinny) version of myself.

If you were ruler of the world, what things would you banish absolutely for all time? Even easier… CALORIES!

Invent and describe a new food… Well let’s see, since it’s the future and I’m skinny and calories aren’t a thing anymore, the possibilities are endless….

Need some extra motivation? Check out these AMAZING success stories.

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Becca Mathis

Becca Mathis

Writer and expert


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