If you’re looking to make a change to your diet, suffer from digestive distress or you want to be more conscious of what goes into your body, then a health journal is for you. This isn’t to say you have to track your calories like a hawk, if you’re putting whole, unprocessed foods into your body, counting calories isn’t necessary. I find that the point of a food journal is to teach yourself to pay attention to the kinds of food you eat and how they affect your digestion, energy levels and over all well-being.
It can reveal how your body reacts to certain foods and pinpoint any intolerances
Along with writing down the foods you eat, you should also keep track of any feelings you experience after eating. I usually describe my energy levels, any bloating or discomfort I may feel, or if I feel sluggish or crash shortly after eating. If you have digestive issues it’s especially good to write down how your stomach feels right after, as well as later on that day. After a few weeks you can go back and look for patterns in your journal in order to figure out which foods cause you digestive distress.
It forces you to think about the foods your eating, without obsessing
Mindful eating can be difficult to do, a lot of times we’re eating on the go and don’t have time to think about our food. Writing it down in a journal can make you more conscious about the food you eat, thus causing you to make better choices. I’ve tried counting calories before and honestly, it can be overwhelming. I find it difficult to track every thing down to the teaspoon, especially when I cook my own meals with a lot of different ingredients. Food journaling keeps me aware of what kinds of food I’m putting into my body while simplifying the recording process.
It can help you set diet + exercise goals
When I write an entry I’ll usually include any exercises I did for the day as well. I can keep track of any progress I make during my exercises including distance, weight lifting ability and reps. By seeing yourself go a little farther or lift more than usual it can inspire you to set another goal. This can be the same for what foods we eat, we all want to feel healthy, and journaling helps us figure out what foods make us feel good. That isn’t to say we can’t cheat once in a while, but checking in yourself and keeping track of how great you feel when you eat a well balanced diet can help us make better decisions.
You can use a physical journal if you prefer, but I find it easier to use note apps such as Evernote since I always have my phone on me. It doesn’t take much time at all, sometimes I’ll even wait until the end of the day to jot everything down. Unless you have a bad memory, then I suggest doing it after each meal.
My own journal entries look something like this:
Wednesday, February 24th
Breakfast: GF toast with avocado + Sriracha | Strawberry Banana + Vega protein shake
+ Felt energized after
Went for a 3 mile hike
Lunch: Spicy black bean soup + tortilla chips
+ Felt bloated after, could be too many black beans
Snack: Blood orange
Dinner: Homemade pad thai with peppers, carrots + broccoli
+ Felt fine after
After looking back at this entry I might try cutting down on black beans. I’ve always had a very sensitive stomach and I find keeping a food journal is the only thing that has really helped me pin point what bothers my stomach and what doesn’t. I also find it helps to keep a list of the foods that make me feel great after eating them, that way I have a good reference point when thinking up new meals.
Do you keep a food journal? If so, do you find it helps keep your diet consistent? Let me know!