The Benefits of a Food Journal
Holding yourself accountable for the popcorn you snack on while you’re watching television, the few bites you steal from your significant other’s plate, and your usual daily meals can make a big difference when trying to live a happier, healthy life.
The benefits of keeping a food journal include:
Identifying the Whys
Why do you eat when you’re not hungry? Why do you choose to eat chocolate over fruit? Why do you buy certain foods at the grocery store? These are all questions a food journal can help answer. Taking note of your energy level, mood, and stomach satisfaction will enable you to connect your food choices to your well-being. You’ll learn more about your food intolerances and whether you eat more when you’re upset, happy, or bored. These realizations will allow you to form new eating habits.
Learning How Your Dining Companions Impact Your Eating Habits
Do you find yourself eating more food when dining with friends and family compared to going to lunch with your colleagues or eating alone? Your dining companions can affect what you eat, how much you eat, and how often you eat. With your food journal, you can pinpoint these patterns and make more individualized decisions.
Eliminating Mindless Eating
Sometimes you eat, unaware of how much you consume because of distraction by people or everyday activities. Mindless eating contributes to consuming more than you probably should. A food journal will instill self-control by helping you acknowledge this behavior. If you find it hard to write down everything you eat, you can always take pictures or use one of the many apps available.
Matching Perceptions with Reality
You may believe that you drink tons of water a day and you eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, but food journaling might open your eyes to a new reality. You might find that you need more variety in your meals, choosing corn and carrots as side dishes instead of potato chips.
In 2008, the Kaiser Center for Health Research conducted a study of 1,700 people, reporting that dieters who kept a food journal for six months lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t. A detailed account of your eating habits keeps you on track with your weight-loss goals by holding you accountable for everything you eat.