Keeping a food diary can help you reach your nutrition goals

Have you ever tried to recall everything you ate or drank on any given day? Remembering just one meal is tough. What about the free supermarket samples or that one bite of your kid’s PB&J sandwich?

These forgotten nibbles can add up quickly and derail your health goals. Here’s where a food journal can come in handy. 

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or keep to a well-balanced diet, journaling can help you stay on track and keep yourself accountable. It can also just help you be more aware of the foods you eat, portion sizes and the timing of your meals and snacks. 

When you write down what you eat and when, you can keep track of your good habits and identify bad habits. A food journal is also useful for helping you and your doctor identify food allergies and intolerances, as well as triggers for gastrointestinal problems

Before you start your food journal, decide on a format that works best for you and your doctor or dietician. If you are digitally inclined, you can use spreadsheets, document tables, or diet tracking websites and apps. If you prefer the old school method of pen and paper, you can keep a list on blank paper or jot down your notes in a daily calendar.

Here are some useful journaling tips:

  • Time of day – write it down immediately
  • Portions – include all beverages, sauces and extras
  • Location – at home or out at a restaurant
  • Activities – including working, watching TV or socializing with friends
  • Mood – be specific about your feelings

A food journal is a great way to get and stay on track to optimum health, but it may not be for everyone. If it makes you feel bad about yourself, talk to your doctor about other ways to reach your health goals.