Let’s say you’ve baked a batch of brownies. After they cool, you proceed to enjoy one. Then, after an hour or so, those brownies begin to sit on the counter begging for you to just have another “taste.” So you cut a sliver. Then you cut and eat another sliver an hour or so later. Before you know it, all the brownies are gone but you have no idea where they went. Enter the food journal. With a food journal, you track everything that crosses your lips, and by doing so, become cognizant of those tiny brownie bites instead of making them mindlessly disappear.
A study published in Obesity found that regularly tracking what you eat takes less than 15 min a day. And tracking your food is one of the best tools in your weight loss arsenal. In one weight loss study of nearly 1,700 participants, those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records.
So if you’re trying to shed pounds or simply eat healthier, recording what you eat calibrates your mind to make positive changes.
Here are a few benefits of keeping a food diary:
Recording what you eat each day can lead to surprising revelations. Through food journaling, you discover the unhealthy habits that are preventing you from losing weight. When you take that pause to write down what you’re eating, you become less likely to grab cookies from your office breakroom or order the extra side of ranch for your salad. It’s really easy to forget about the little snacks sprinkled throughout your day that could potentially sabotage you from shedding those extra pounds.
Revealing Food Intolerances
Food diaries are an excellent way to discover how your body reacts to certain foods. Sometimes you might have a delayed reaction to consuming a particular food and by recording what you’ve eaten and how you feel afterward, you can pinpoint what foods negatively impact your body. If you’ve ever felt nauseous or bloated after consuming dairy, eggs, or gluten, then you may have an intolerance to these foods.
Tracking each meal can show you more than what calories you’ve consumed and food intolerances — it can also reveal what food groups you are eating (or not eating). If your food diary is filled with proteins and carbs, then your body isn’t getting the nourishment it needs from fresh fruits and vegetables. With a food diary, you can analyze what foods you aren’t eating enough of (or too much) and then make the necessary adjustments.
It’s been proven that portion control is a huge problem in the United States. Restaurants that provide “supersize” portions can distort your perceptions of what a normal serving is and affect how much you eat at home. This is where keeping tracking what you eat can play a role in managing your food portions. Having a food diary by your side can help keep you accountable for your meal sizes. A great idea before you begin your food diary is researching appropriate portion sizes and then base how much you consume off of what you have learned.
Whether your goal is to lose weight or simply be healthier, tracking your food intake can help you make positive changes in your eating habits. Writing down every chip, sip of soda or bite of candy you eat will keep you accountable and identify triggers to unhealthy eating.