Swimsuit season is fast approaching, especially for those of us in the South. For individuals who are trying to lose a few pounds and fit into this year’s version of cute beachwear, a food journal might be a good start. Keeping a record of what one eats is one of the best ways to change eating habits. A daily record might not only help with weight loss but also help one identity excesses or deficiencies of sugar, fat, sodium, fiber, and other nutrients.
Registered dietitians and other health professionals use food records often when working with clients. Besides being a record of what one eats, a food journal can give important clues as to how one manages food during the day.
For example, a journal can answer the following questions.
- Does one enjoy a meal at a table or eat when driving, watching TV, or at a desk while answering email?
- Are healthy meals or calorie-laden snacks the usual fare?
- Are meals often skipped and replaced with a granola bar and a can of pop or cup of coffee and a candy bar?
- How often does one eat fast food?
- Are fruits and vegetables eaten on a daily basis?
Besides noting what eating challenges you might have, a food journal can also help build confidence and motivate you to do better. Calorie Count has an interesting entry about keeping a success journal to help with weight loss progress. Besides keeping track of what you eat, indicate what you do during the day that can help you succeed.
Keep notations of actions such as eating fruit when offered cookies, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking during your lunch break, getting up early to exercise, or taking a 10 minute meditation break. Reviewing such activities helps one take note of positive steps towards a goal and trains the brain to find the good choices you are making.
Beth Kitchin, a registered dietitian and assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) offers helpful advice for keeping food records. And, she offers a printable food record to get you started.
Whether you are interested in weight loss or just trying to change eating habits for the better, give food journaling a try.