Food journals are a great tool to identify areas of your diet which could use improvement. I use food journals to shed light on daily eating habits. My patients often express surprise when they journal daily consumption habits.
Food is a direct trigger for both “health” and numerous “Dis-Eases” ranging from allergies, asthma, diabetes, hypertension, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, and skin disorders.
Food journals serve as measurement tool. That which we measure gets managed.
In this post I will give tips on how to food journal and provide key tips for improving dietary habits.
Preparing a Food Journal
I prefer using a small spiral notebook easily carried in a purse or backpack. For greatest insight and accuracy you want to have the journal available at hand so you can quickly jot every beverage, snack, and meal. When making notations, be honest, document every intake good or bad. The point of the exercise is not to generate self-loathing or guilt but to objectively identify areas of possible dietary improvement.
- Small spiral notebook
- Document each meal/drink/snack
- Be brief but make enough notation to recall specific foods and quantities
- Not necessary to try and calculate calories
- Don’t judge yourself, simply objectively document
- Journal 5-7 days to accurately depict your dietary normals
- Make note of special stresses, sleep patterns, and cravings
- Take a cell phone photo of each meal–this will jog your memory for the journal, and has been shown to promote weight loss following this simple habit.
Setting Goals Based on Journal Findings
After a 5-7 days recording your eating habits, set aside some time to review and identify areas of improvement. Most people not living under rocks or extreme states of denial understand that there are some very key types of food that simply aren’t good for you. I’ve written on these topics extensively and I offer you these posts to highlight key foods you may want to identify and strike from your diet. (See Food Sensitivities, Focused Nutrition, and Athletic Performance killers).
Once you have reviewed your habits, set a few goals based on the following dietary goals.
Suggested Dietary Goals
- Never drink soda, fruit juice, or sweetened beverages (Not even artificial sweetners)
- Habitually avoid or severely limit alcohol consumption (Beer/wine/liquer)
- Avoiding pies, cakes, pastries, pasta, rice, and bread (Carbohydrate foods cause weight gain)
- Developing the habit of consuming 30 gms of protein within 30 minutes of waking (Like two eggs)
- Increase intake of fresh water from your baseline
- Don’t skip meals
- Increase vegetables and quality fats found in foods like meat, avocado, and nuts.
- Sweet tooth? Replace with fruit snacks.
Beware of dietary “Balanced Diet!”
The world is now full of information and experts plugging the latest diet. People become easily confused by the minute details and subtle differences between dietary advice.
Eat this, don’t eat that.
(Count your calories….low fat…low carb…grapefruits….Zones….powders….shakes….pills…blood type diets…etc)
KEEP IT SIMPLE!!
Current research suggests we are hunter/gatherer creatures. We optimally function with a balance of foods gathered from our environment (Vegetables, fruits, meat, eggs, nuts…etc.)
The traditional, culturally driven, modern diet has huge quantities of sugar, chemicals, additives and processed grain (Wheat, soy, corn).
The human body was not designed for this type of diet and this causes the vast majority of medical problems today.
Focus on the items that make the biggest difference.
Make goals and track your progress!
I’m looking forward to hearing feedback on food journals, please share with our community of readers your discoveries with this process. Share the experiences you have with the basic dietary modifications I suggested. “Change your story” Take a look under the hood and figure out what you’re doing day to day!