Benefits of a Food Diary

Woman weighing curd cheese
A food diary helps keep you focused. (Image: JackF/iStock/Getty Images)

Keeping a food diary can benefit you in many ways because tracking what you eat and drink can keep you focused on your diet, provide motivation, increase your efficacy, and help you attain and maintain your goals. To successfully utilize a food journal, write down the food items you eat for every meal and snack, the portion sizes of all the food items, ingredients you used, and the beverages you drank. Also, include columns for where you purchased or prepared the food, what you were doing while you ate the food and how you felt after you consumed the food. For example, name the specific restaurant or note if the meal was made at home. Also, note if you were standing, watching TV, or sitting at a table and note how you felt after eating.

Accountability

Recording everything you eat provides regulation and accountability for what you put in your mouth and it helps your nutritionist, dietitian or physician have an idea of what you eat, when you eat, and where you eat. If you are deterred by the inconvenience of writing down everything you eat, there are technological advances, such as cell phone apps, that allow you to take pictures before and after your meals and snack. This will make journaling faster and easier.

Eating Balanced Meals

Journaling will point out if you need more variety. For example, you may need to eat more vegetables or more meat and less processed food. Beyond monitoring how many calories you are consuming, keeping a food journal helps you compose a meal that is balanced with healthy proportions of carbohydrates, protein and fat. You can then easily make changes to your meal composition for increased energy and balance.

Success Attaining Goals

Recording what you eat can also make you reconsider what you put in your body. This can lead to decreased caloric intake and weight loss. It also reveals if you eat larger portions than you need. If you continue to journal for an extended period of time, you will notice the changes in your food intake and you will be able to monitor the progress you made towards reaching your health goals.

Connect Food to Feelings

Make a column in your food diary that notes how the foods you eat affect you. You will find connections between certain food items you eat and how you feel afterward. For example, if you feel bloated, have constipation or excess gas after eating a meal with wheat products, like pasta or bread, you may have an intolerance to wheat or gluten, which is a protein in wheat. Also, certain foods can increase your anxiety levels while other foods may have a centering and calming effect.

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