Dear Diary, Today I Ate…
Whether you want to count calories, track caffeine or water intake, or try to pinpoint a food sensitivity, a food journal can help you analyze your eating habits. Read through the challenge below to learn how starting a food journal could lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Did you know we underestimate our calorie intake by up to 40%? (Source) . Taking the time to log your daily food intake can help you eliminate unhealthy eating habits, like grazing while you Netflix or stopping by your coworker’s candy jar. But, keeping a food journal can be useful for reasons other than weight loss! Do you suspect you may have a food allergy or sensitivity? Logging your meals may help identify an ingredient you’re allergic to. Not getting enough water? A food journal could help you be more vigilant about fluid intake.
Logging your food can also help you learn about your relationship with food. Are you skipping breakfast more often than not? Are you always snacking on something mid-afternoon? Are you overeating because you’re bored or upset? These are all things keeping a food journal could help you analyze.
To get started, you only need a pen and piece of paper (or notebook). Start by writing down everything – and we mean everything! – you eat in one day. Write it down as close to when you ate it as possible, or you’ll forget to add it later. Pay attention to the label (sometimes the number on the bag is per serving, and not for the entire bag), and be honest. Don’t forget to log the total amount of water you drank that day! You might be surprised to see how many calories you actually consumed, or by how much water you didn’t drink.
At first, it might seem like a lot of work to record every single thing you eat or drink, but try to be vigilant on that first day, or even that first week. This is how you will get the most accurate picture of your eating habits. Once you’ve started to analyze your eating and drinking habits, don’t feel pressured to be strict and record every single thing every day. The goal of the food journal is to help you improve your health, not make you stress over getting it done.
If you would like a little more structure, consider purchasing a food journal. Two we like are the Food Journal, or the Food Sensitivity Journal. You can also go digital! There are many apps that allow you to log your food intake. Going digital can save time, since it will store foods or even entire meals that you can simply click on to re-enter time and again. The MyFitnessPal and Lose It! apps are two popular options, but there are a plethora of apps depending on your needs. For example, there are hydration tracker apps, like Waterlogged, if your goal is to increase your water intake. And there are others that can help with more specific issues, like tracking food sensitivity symptoms. One benefit of using a food tracking app is that it will send you reminders to log your meals.
Remember: The information contained in this challenge is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a nutritionist or physician regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or your personal health objectives.
A notebook and a pen, or the internet.
Read through the articles below for additional information.
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