How to Start (and Continue) Food Journaling
Do you feel stuck in your fitness pursuits? Have you been experiencing breakouts, tried every solution in the book, and just can’t seem to figure out what’s making your skin freak out? It may be time to start a food journal.
Food journaling sounds easy. You just write down what you eat, what you were doing while eating, and how you felt before and after eating. Simple, right? Not so much. Food journaling takes a lot of dedication, and is a huge step towards self-care, self-love, and staying committed to something (all of which I have trouble with, sometimes).
Not to worry, though, we’ve got it all lined out for you, so you can start food journaling with ease.
What is a food journal?
First of all, a food journal is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a journal (or digital journal) where you can track what foods you eat, so that you have a clear picture of your dietary habits throughout the day, week, and month. There are apps galore that you can use as a food journal, but I prefer a good, old fashioned pen and notebook.
A study conducted by Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research showed that food journaling can double a person’s weight loss, but that’s not the only thing it’s good for. If you have struggled with breakouts over the course of your life, have tried seemingly every solution possible, and still can’t figure out why you’re breaking out, it may be due to the food you eat. Starting a food journal will help you track what you eat, and then you can experiment with your diet a little bit. Maybe taking something out will help. Or maybe you need more vitamins and minerals thrown in.
Seeing it all on paper (or a screen) will make you more aware of what you eat, how you eat, and why you eat, which in turn can help you to make beneficial changes to your well-being.
If the time seems right to set up a food journal, here’s how to do it:1.
1. Set an intention
Why are you food journaling in the first place? What do you hope to achieve from it? Answering these two questions will help you to set a clear goal and help you stay dedicated.
If you want clearer skin, remind yourself every time you open your food journal that that’s what you want out of this whole experiment. The same goes for weight loss goals. Reminding yourself why you do something is half the battle, and will help you to not only meet, but crush your goals.
2. Decide what to record
I know that I can be an emotional eater. If I’m sad, stressed, or just bored, I start hunting around the kitchen to see what yummy snacks we have lying around. So in my food journal, for example, I like to record my emotions when I’m eating, as well as what I’m doing. If I’m bored and watching Netflix, it’s way easier to scarf down a whole bag of chips than it is if I’m sitting at the kitchen table and having dinner with someone.
Think about why you eat and what you’d like to find out about your eating habits, then record that as well as the food you eat in your journal. Here are some ideas to get you started. You can record…
- Emotions (boredom, sadness, happiness, etc.)
- Time of day (are you a late-night snacker?)
- Portion size
- How you feel after you eat (Stuffed? Still hungry? Tired?)
- Who you’re with (I know I snack way more with some friends than with others)
- How fast/slow you eat
Recording things like these will help you to gain a deeper understanding of your relationship with food, and why you eat what you eat.
3. Find some structure
Sometimes the hardest thing about forming a new habit is actually sticking to it. A good way that I’ve found to overcome this is to find a structure that works for you. Whether you use an app to record your food, or use an old, empty journal you have lying around, find a method that fits easily into your schedule and personality. Playing to your strengths will only help you in the long run.
Most importantly with food journaling, it’s imperative to write down what you eat as soon as you’ve finished eating. Putting it off and saying, “oh, I’ll just write everything down later” won’t help, and could also make it easier to stop journaling. Do it right away, and do your best to help foster this new habit.
Food journaling can be a simple and straightforward way to reach your health goals, whether that’s finding out if certain foods are bad for your skin, or by helping you to get fit. By setting an intention, deciding what you want to record (besides food, of course), and finding some structure, you’ll be well on your way to starting, and continuing, a food journal.
We’re challenging you to try this out for two weeks. Don’t worry, we’ll be doing it right along with you! At the end of two weeks, take a look back and what you’ve eaten, how you’ve felt, and if you’ve become any more aware of what you put in your body. Then set an intention for the next two weeks. It’s all baby steps, after all, and once you’re set in your new routine, you can play with your food plan and see what really serves you.