There are pros and cons to keeping a food journal. In some cases, a food journal helps to increase mindfulness of food choices and behaviors. In other cases, it can trigger obsessive and intrusive food-related thoughts. If you’re wondering “is it healthy to food journal?”, consider your unique situation and Everglow Nutrition’s balanced approach.
Benefits of a Food Journal
A food journal can be a useful tool to build awareness of current eating habits. For example, a food journal could reveal that you have a habit of overeating at night on days that you skip lunch. A food journal brings these patterns into the light.
Second, a food journal helps to identify nutrient gaps. It provides a snapshot of eating, which is useful information for assessing nutritional status. Especially, if working with a dietitian, he or she will be able to help you spot potential nutrient deficiencies based on your typical dietary intake.
Third, keeping a food journal can help you be more mindful during the eating process. Food journals often prompt you to write down how you feel before and after eating. You’ll pay better attention to your body’s internal cues if needing to write this down later.
When NOT to Keep a Food Journal
A food journal is not for everyone. If you have a history of disordered eating, do not keep a food journal (unless you are working under the close supervision of a dietitian). If food journaling ever feels tedious or stressful, let it go. It should not feel like a forced activity. Finally, if you notice yourself obsessing over calories or eating the “right” way, it’s a sign that you should take a break from it.
A food journal is meant to serve as a tool, not a rule. If it makes you feel “bad” about yourself or triggers food guilt, don’t force it. Your relationship with food is of primary importance when it comes to sustaining healthy eating habits.
What to Include – Food Journal Template
If you determine that it’s in your best interest to keep a food journal, here’s a template to follow.
Start with the W’s.
- What you ate.
- When you ate.
- Where you ate.
- Who you ate with.
This is the 4-W approach to capturing relevant facts.
Add your hunger & fullness rating.
Next, use the hunger and fullness discovery scale to rate your hunger and fullness on a scale of 0-10 before and after eating. This helps you reconnect to your internal cues regulating hunger and fullness. It’s key to rebuilding trust with your body!
Include your mood.
Don’t forget to include your mood. Were you feeling happy, sad, bored, or stressed when you ate? This is relevant information for learning how to navigate emotional eating.
The Everglow Nutrition Approach
If proceeding with a food journal, start small! Set a goal to track dietary intake for 3 days. If tracking more, you might find that journaling starts to feel stressful instead of helpful. There is plenty of information that can be distilled from just 3 days of tracking food!
What has your experience been like with keeping track of food intake? Let me know in the comments if this article was helpful!