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Become Healthier By Keeping a Food Journal

Tools for Success, on Flickr by angelamaphone
Leading a healthy lifestyle seems intimadating to people whether it’s that they’re not sure what is “right” to eat, how to properly workout or what supplements may support their efforts.

While working out regularly can help to reduce your stress, improve your health and help you to lose weight, this is usually one of the hardest things for people to keep up with. No matter how well-intentioned you are, when stress or travel or a busy schedule strikes, working out is the first thing we toss aside. And while we’re busy kicking ourselves for not going to the gym enough, we let our eating choices degrade to options that we know are less than healthy.

It doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to eat healthy even when going through a less-than-ideal day or week. I firmly believe (and have experience) that eating soundly is the most important part of becoming healthier.

Is eating healthier consistently something that you have been struggling with? If so, let’s start with an easy first step.

Start a food journal.

Grab a notepad and for the next week jot down everything you eat and drink as well what time you eat/drink it at. Grab a handful of crackers? Write it down. Having a beer at the end of the workday? Write it down. Write everything down for the next week. Don’t cheat yourself by not including that piece of chocolate you had after dinner.

If you want to go one step further, take a picture of the food before you consume it. You may decide that after seeing a picture of your choice (assuming it isn’t healthy) you might change it to something healthier. And if you decide to not change what you’re going to consume, you can easily send that photo to Evernote or any one of a dozen food/diet/health apps which will help you to keep a digital food journal.

The only way that you can improve your eating habits is by being aware of what you are consuming and when.

If you want to gain even more personal insight, write down your mood with each entry. Even a simple smiley face or one word emotion such as “stressed” will help.

After keeping your journal for the next week, overlay your food journal with your calendar. What do you notice? Maybe on stressful days you snack more than you would prefer. Maybe on Tuesdays you have a few extra cups of coffee due to a long staff meeting. Or it could you notice that during the day you don’t eat much thus leading you to snack more in the late afternoon to help bring your energy back up.

By understanding these habits you’ll be able to make changes thus helping you to achieve your healthy eating goals.

Question: Have you kept a food journal before? If so, did you find that it helped you make healthier choices?

Photo Credit: angelamaphone

  • http://www.erikwennerstrom.com Erik Wennerstrom

    I just started doing this using myfitnesspal.com. I changed some things around and after two weeks, I am down 5 pounds. It is amazing what happens once you realize what you are actually eating and the calories in it.