A food journal can help you stay on track with a diet or identify food sensitivity issues. Deciding to keep a food journal is easy, but doing so successfully can be hard. You’ll need to try out different systems to find the one that is the best fit with your personal needs. Keep the following in mind as you start the food journaling process.
Organize your journal in a way that makes sense to you. Look up food journal templates online. You’re likely to see that there are many different ways to organize a food journal. Most people divide their journal into individual meals and snacks. This system is one of the easiest to follow. If you want to see whether or not your diet is balanced, it might make sense to record your entries according to the food group to which they belong.
Most food journals feature daily entries. Whether you decide to record these entries by meal, time or type of food is entirely up to you. Try both systems to see which makes the most sense for your personally. If you spend most of your day behind a computer, try emailing a break-down of what you have eaten directly to your JRNL to stay on track.
Be sure to record brand names if you are journaling to identify food allergies or sensitivities. Many individuals who suspect that they have food sensitivities or allergies keep food journals to identify items that might trigger digestive issues. You should be sure to record information about the brands of foods you are eating when journaling to identify such issues. If you notice that only a specific brand seems to trigger issues, review the preservatives and additives used in those products.
Record specific goals in your journal on a weekly basis. Record your eating goals at the beginning of each week. If you’re journaling to discover a food sensitivity, be sure to record that too. Keeping a written record of why you’re journaling will help you stay on track. Stating your goals clearly also makes it easier to evaluate your success.
Analyze your eating patterns weekly and record your thoughts. A food journal won’t do you much good unless you review what you’ve eaten on a weekly basis. (Doing so on a daily basis can be tempting but should generally be avoided. Daily review is likely to make you feel bad or as though you’ve failed.)
If you’re keeping a food journal to identify a sensitivity, be sure to write down when you are feeling bad and the time/day. When you do your weekly or monthly review, you’ll be able to see patterns that you might not see in a daily review. It helps you “zoom out” a little.
Be compassionate with yourself. Keeping a food journal can be emotionally trying, especially if you are doing so in conjunction with a diet. Remember to go easy on yourself. Don’t look at your “cheat” meals/snacks as failures. Consider them opportunities to grow and improve. Encourage yourself to make changes; that’s the key when undertaking any diet or lifestyle change.
Have you ever kept a food journal? What was your biggest challenge? Leave your advice in the comments section below.