Here’s The Best Way To Start A Daily Food Journal
It’s no secret that what you eat can have a profound effect on your mood.
A healthy diet full of fresh produce, lean proteins, and complex carbs will give you the energy to tackle your day and keep your mind sharp and clear.
A high-fat diet with processed foods and a little exercise will leave you feeling sluggish, lethargic, and even depressed.
So it makes sense that keeping track of what you put into your body could be an important part of maintaining mental health—especially if eating certain foods leaves you feeling anxious or sad afterward for no apparent reason.
That’s where the food journal comes in. A food journal is a great way to track your eating habits, identify any patterns or trends in your moods or emotions, and make changes to your diet accordingly.
Here’s how to start one:
First, we need to understand what Mindful Eating is...
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is the practice of paying attention to what you are eating, how much you are eating, and why you are eating.
It is about being present in the moment and enjoying your food without judgment.
When you eat mindfully, you will be less likely to overeat or indulge in unhealthy foods.
You will also be more likely to listen to your body’s signals and stop eating when you are full.
So how can you apply mindfulness to your food journal?
Well, one way is to make a list of the food that you ate today. Write down what time you ate it and how hungry you were. If there is an emotion next to the food, write down why you felt that way when eating it.
Draw a line if your mood changed after eating the food. Go back over your list and see if there are any patterns or trends in your moods or emotions when eating certain foods.
Look for ways to make changes in order to improve your mental health through dieting.
For example, I often feel anxious after eating processed foods like pizza or burgers. I might then decide to cut out processed foods altogether or try to limit them to once a week.
Alternatively, I might decide that I need more protein in my diet and add more lean meats and eggs to my meal plan.
The bottom line is that mindful eating can help you be more aware of how your food makes you feel and help you make positive changes to your diet.
This is how it worked for me, but every brain is wired differently. What works for me might not work for you.
It’s totally fine if that’s the case—try out different techniques and see what feels best to you!
Which Brings us to Food Journaling
Food journaling, also known as food tracking, is a type of mindful eating. 1,2 Some may consider it to be a bad habit that is definitely feasible.
Rather than focusing on the drawbacks of food journaling, let's take a look at some of the benefits:
- It helps you eat healthier and more consciously by making you aware of your eating habits and patterns.
- You can learn a lot about yourself through food journaling, such as how certain emotions affect your eating patterns or why you crave certain foods at specific times.
- By keeping track of calories consumed, you have an accurate way of measuring whether or not your diet is working for you and if any necessary changes need to be made a week at a time or a month at a time.
- Food journaling is inspired by mindfulness practices, so it is definitely possible to approach the process with patience and kindness towards yourself rather than judgmental criticism of what the numbers say after the day has ended.
There are several different helpful apps online that will help you journal your food intake.
If you're someone who prefers pen and paper, a simple notebook will do the trick as well!
The most important thing is that you find what works best for you and that you are consistent with it.
Meal planning can be a helpful way to make sure you have the time to journal your food each day.
There's no right or wrong way to do this; the key is simply to be aware of what goes into your body and how it makes you feel.
If you find that keeping a food journal exacerbates your negative thoughts about food or your body, then reconsider whether or not it is the right tool for you at this time.
There are many other ways to be mindful of your eating habits, but the most important part is that you find one that works best for you.
So, there are some thoughts on how to create a mindful eating experience through food journaling! It's not an easy thing to get started with at first. I would recommend starting by spending just five minutes writing down what you ate today and how it made you feel after.
Here are the apps we would recommend:
- See How You Eat.
- Ate Food Diary.
- Lose It!
Does food journal help lose weight?
Keeping a journal has been found to be an extremely useful technique for influencing behavior for individuals who are attempting to lose weight.
According to one study of over 1,700 participants, those who kept daily food diaries lost twice as much weight as those who did not keep records of their food intake.
The researchers believe that tracking food helps dieters be more mindful of what they are eating and makes them more likely to make healthy choices when planning their meals.
How do I know if food journaling is working for me?
If you're unsure whether or not food journaling is working for you, consider taking a look at your weight over time.
If you see that you are losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight, then journaling is likely working well for you! However, if your weight starts to fluctuate or increase, it may be an indication that you need to make some changes to your diet.
Can I only track my food intake on certain days?
No, you don't have to track your food intake on specific days. Some people find it helpful to journal every day, while others only do it when they feel like they need more accountability. It's up to you! Just be sure to be as consistent as possible with whatever routine you choose.
What should I do if I eat something that isn't in my food journal?
If you eat something that isn't in your food journal, simply add it in and note how you felt after eating it. This will help you get a better understanding of how different foods make you feel.
Can I drink calories?
Yes, you can drink calories! However, be sure to account for those drinks when tracking your food intake. A lot of beverages (like juice, soda, and alcohol) are high in calories and can quickly add up.
Can I eat out?
Yes, you can eat out! Just be sure to track the food you order. Restaurants often have Nutrition Facts available online or on their menus, so you can easily enter those into your food journal.
What should I do if I forget to journal?
If you forget to journal, don't worry! Just pick up where you left off and continue tracking as best as you can. It's not always going to be perfect, but that's okay! The important thing is that you're trying your best.
These are the basic building blocks of getting started with food journaling. As you continue to journal, you may find that you want to add more details or specific notes about your meals.
The most important thing is to be patient and consistent. It may take some time for you to see results, but don't give up!
Food journaling can be a powerful tool for improving your mental health and relationship with food.
Have you tried starting a food journal?
Share your experiences in the comments below!