Although food journals have been around for a while, there are many ways to apply this concept to the modern age. So if you do not want to keep a physical journal, there are many apps that allow you to log your food, water, and exercise intake effortlessly. On top of showing you what is not working (those office sweets, maybe?), it can also show you what is working (when you choose a healthy dinner over takeout).
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If you are going to start logging your food, it may be beneficial to stop categorizing food as good or bad, and instead, use your log as data you can use to inform your decisions.
For example, substitute, “I had a doughnut for breakfast, why did I do that?” for, “Ok, so I had a doughnut, which almost entirely contains empty calories from sugar. But now, I can balance that out by eating a lunch that has a good variety of vegetables and protein to stabilize my blood sugar.”
There are many benefits to using a food journal, but they are not for everyone. If you recognize yourself as someone who may find tracking what you eat can trigger an obsessive mindset or bring back memories of a past eating disorder or disordered eating behaviors, food tracking may not be the healthiest option. If this is the case, your best option may be to work with a professional dietitian to identify other, healthy ways of reaching your goals.
How To Use a Food Journal
Regardless of the method you use to track your food, the most important aspect to guarantee your success is making sure you incorporate it into your everyday routine.
On top of convenient apps or the physicality of a journal and pen, even a notes section on your phone or a Google doc will do the trick. Find what works for you.
As far as recording, many people find recording what they eat right after or before they eat works best. Others find recording at the end of the day will work for them. As long as you remain consistent, a food journal will work.
Whatever your tracking method of choice, make sure it is realistic, healthy, and works with, not against your lifestyle.