Writing a Food Journal: The Advantages of Documenting What You Eat

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Using a food journal log to keep track of your eating behavior can assist you with deciding which negative habits need to be curtailed, and further guide you on how you can return to healthy eating again and accomplish your weight loss goals for the long haul. In fact, according to Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health and Research, a study found that using a food journal can double a person’s weight loss.

Keeping Track of What You Eat

When you are documenting what you eat, you should write down the food, portion size, and time of day that you sat down to eat that meal or snack. Make note of your purpose for eating and your feelings during that time. Ask yourself, did you eat because you were bored, hungry, or upset? Also, describe where you ate; did you eat at a fresh choice restaurant, fast-food restaurant, or at home? Were you eating alone or with other people? You also want to record what you were doing while eating, such as driving or watching television.

Determine Your Intention

Try to determine which areas are of most concern to you. If you’re more worried about nutrition, then write down the nutritional content of your foods, such as salt, fat, and sugar. If emotional eating is a problem, then place more emphasis on your moods in relation to your eating schedule. Additionally, if you struggle with frequent eating with little regard for calorie content or type of food, then concentrate on when you eat, where you eat, what you were doing while eating, and who was with you at that time. Let the food journal work for you, so you can achieve optimal results.

Understanding Your Journal

When you review your journal, you need to figure out the underlying motive for your particular eating patterns. Are you eating for emotional reasons or are you really hungry? Next, you should closely examine the food pyramid and weigh it against the kinds of foods you consume, including how much of those foods you take in. Write down your eating routine; determine whether you eat three large meals a day or snack throughout the day and then pig out by dinnertime. This is why it’s important to write it all down, so you can actually see where your diet needs work.

Why Keep a Food Journal

By keeping detailed records of what you consume, you are creating a conscious awareness of eating patterns and food intake. A food journal will reveal to you whether or not you’re eating a healthy diet. You will better understand where you might be going wrong, and you will know if you’re consuming too many or not enough calories.

A food journal can encourage you to strictly monitor your portion sizes, especially if you tend to eyeball your portion sizes. You can even watch your eating habits change for the better, or look back at mistakes you do not wish to repeat. Many people are usually quite astounded at how the rare fattening dessert turns out to be something that occurs on a regular basis. Last but least, writing a food journal holds you accountable for every little thing you put into your mouth. So, even those little cheating sessions have to be recorded, which will help improve your willpower. By and large, writing a food journal is vital to long-term health and vitality, as well as permanent weight loss.


Kaiser Permanente (2008, July 8). Keeping A Food Diary Doubles Diet Weight Loss, Study Suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 17, 2009, from https://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2008/07/080708080738.htm

Cleveland Clinic.org: Keep a Food Journal