I used to think, “food diary? keep track of everything I eat?? food journal benefits?? who has time for that???” So, I just let that little idea fly right out of my head and didn’t give it another thought. Then, about a year ago, things started changing with my midlife body and it was affecting not only how I looked, but how I felt.
I’ve never been a big eater, at least not with portion size. I’m a grazer…multiple snacks throughout the day in small quantities, with a reasonable dinner. So although I never kept track of what I ate, it always worked for me. Until I hit my 60’s.
That’s when all this nonsense started with the weight creeping up on me, the belly fat starting to accumulate around the middle, things seeming to drop closer to my feet…all very normal, of course, but I was resistant to the thought of saying, “oh well, that’s just life”. So I decided to do something about it.
As I was researching how to live happily into my 60’s and beyond with a healthy lifestyle and not gain weight around the middle, there were several consistencies that arose, and one of them was a food diary. I’ll share what happened as I sip on my coffee this morning.
DIY Food Journal
Fast forward several months and the result was twofold:
- an eating plan that I created to take control of the belly fat and,
- a simple weekly food diary
So I not only embraced the idea of tracking my food intake, I ultimately created an entire program, Midlife Magic, that is available for free.
My simple DIY food tracker is set up on a weekly plan and is kept the old fashioned way, with paper and pen. This system works for me and is a wonderful visual of what the day and week has been like in terms of food intake, exercise and hydration.
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Why A Food Diary is so Effective
For me, the simple act of writing down what I eat makes me more conscious of what I am consuming, because I’ve made the commitment to myself to honestly record my food intake. Food Journal Benefits 101, my friends.
Actually, there is evidence that simply writing down what you eat can help you reach certain health goals faster, including weight loss.
So at a minimum, a food diary will make us aware of everything we eat in a day, which can be a real eye-opener! And ultimately, if weight loss is the goal, a food tracker can be a game changer for success.
How a simple food diary can change your life: healthy food journal benefits
1. If you commit to recording your eating habits, you could very well learn why you eat when you’re not hungry. I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of us (my little paw is raised high) have done this more than once.
The key to understanding this ‘why’ is to go one extra step and write down how you are feeling when you reach for that snack. As you continue to record your food habits and feelings, a pattern will most likely emerge.
Once you have this knowledge, you have the power to change that habit and redirect those emotions away from food, or at least to a more healthy option.
2. Another light bulb moment when keeping an honest food diary is discovering how much you are really eating. The key is to be honest with yourself – that means no cheating – and actually write down everything you consume. Even those quick little ‘walk by’ snacks.
I have learned to discipline myself from mindless snacking and grabbing ‘just a bite or two’ of something, by counting out a serving per the package contents (or whatever I am choosing to eat), then taking that single serving out of the kitchen to eat. When it’s gone, it’s gone. No more.
At least that way I know exactly what I have consumed. For me, that was a game changer.
3. Include a weekly selfie with your food diary. Studies have shown that those who take weekly pictures of themselves are more likely to be successful with their healthy living goals, including weight loss.
4. Plan ahead. I do this quite regularly with my food journal. I’ve found that by thinking ahead and planning what I’m going to eat the next day, even a portion of the day, I’m more likely to stick with my intentions.
Sometimes life gets in the way and I end up eating differently, and that’s okay. I record what I actually ate that day. Tomorrow is a new day. 🙂
5. Set aside time once a week to review your food diary, particularly your emotions as you selected the food you ate. (A perfect reason to record those feelings!) Learning to recognize the trends will help you make the adjustments needed.
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Here are a few other helpful tips to ensure success with a food diary:
- Remember to date your notes and food journaling, particularly if you are not using a form or an app.
- Don’t forget to record your beverages, too. All of them, including alcohol.
- Record your meals and snacks in time blocks. This will help to keep things simple and encourage you to continue, and it also will point out patterns and trends discussed above, positive or not, as you go along.
- Keep your food diary in a place that is convenient for you. That’s why a prepared form to use or a phone app is so very helpful!
Use a Simple Food Journal App to Track Your Food Intake
I was recently introduced to the Eat-Bio food diary app, so have been experimenting with it over the last week or so. It is a great way to keep a food diary wherever you are throughout the day, and this food journal app is completely free.
In it’s simplest form, Eat Bio lets you record your daily food intake in 3-hour increments. You can save and re-use food and beverages (like coffee 🙂 ) that you consume regularly.
What I really like about this simple food journal app is just that…it is very simple! You don’t have to worry about counting calories, uploading images of food, scanning of bar codes, or trying to follow the latest diet craze.
The Eat-Bio app includes two in app upgrades if you want to also track nutrients such as sugar, carbs, protein, and more. This could be a very handy way to keep an overall watch on certain nutrients that are significant for your particular health or eating plan
Another advantage of using an app like Eat-Bio is the ability to download your data.You might want to have it handy for a doctor appointment, or for your own regular review.
You’ll find FAQ’s that provide much more information and inspiration on using the Eat-Bio app
The only thing you do is record what you eat. And that, my friends, can be a very important first step toward a more positive self image and healthier living!
Ultimately, food journals in any form are very personal tools for self development.
Unless you choose to share the information with another person, it’s really all about you. You’re the boss. You are in charge of yourself and your food intake.
If you choose to embrace the concept of a simple food diary and remain committed to it, and to yourself, it can literally change your life. There are so many food journal benefits!
Well, the coffee is long gone now, and I’m off to record the cookie (low carb of course!) that I enjoyed along with it. 🙂
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