What's the Point of Keeping a Food Journal?
Updated: Dec 2, 2020
Simply hearing the words ‘food journal’ or ‘food diary’ can generate major side-eye or trigger full body shudders to those who hear it. Let’s be honest, journaling your food intake is not a pleasant task to do because it’s time intensive, it requires self-reflection, and can be anxiety provoking for many. This doesn’t seem like a productive way to handle change, especially when it comes to your lifestyle and habits.
So, why bother keeping a food journal at all, especially if that task can lead to so many undesirable emotions?
Here are the Top Three Reasons to Keep a Food Journal:
1. Help you see patterns with your eating habits
Most adults learn visually, meaning that they need to see a problem before they can fully understand how to find a solution. When you write down or electronically document your food intake, you can visibly start to identify patterns associated with your eating habits. You may think that you eat a certain way, when in actuality your eating habits may be completely different.
2. Understand why you eat the way you do
You don’t just eat when you’re hungry. You may eat when you’re sad, angry, guilty, stressed-out, happy, bored, or simply out of habit. Your eating habits can also be influenced by those people you surround yourself with, where you live/work, poor sleep, or triggered by other environmental factors (for example, food marketing and shift work).
3. Improve your health with better nutrition
Health can be heavily influenced by the quality of a diet. Documenting food intake should not be limited to calorie tracking because diet quality can be heavily impacted regardless of the amount of calories eaten (whether too little or too much). Keeping a food journal can help you explore what types of foods are limited in your diet, which foods you’re eating more frequently than others, and what may be causing food intolerance or discomfort when eating. Eating a healthy diet can lead to positive improvements in how you feel physically, mentally and emotionally.
We know that keeping a food journal is not an easy thing to do, but we also know that it can be a helpful way to get started when thinking about making lifestyle changes or improving your health. If you’re not currently tracking your dietary intake, consider starting slowly to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed. The Sustain Bariatric Nutrition team is here to help you through this process. Let's take the stigma and shame away from journaling and use it as a tool to support your efforts in making positive changes.
If you’re ready to start keeping a food journal, read our upcoming article on ‘Helpful Tips to Keeping a Food Journal'' for more information on how to do this successfully.
Adam, Sarah, and Stephanie