Health Tips

From tips on how to lose weight effectively to ways to combat boredom eating, this collection of informative articles covers a wide range of health topics that matter to real people, like you.

The Benefits of Food Journaling: You Are What You Eat

With the use of so-called "diet journals," individuals can recognize and translate their own personal health and weight trends in relation to chosen foods. Learn how to journal effectively and the benefits of its practice here.


Though eating an orange will not turn you into one, "you are what you eat" infers just how eating habits can affect health and contribute to weight status. And with the use of so-called "diet journals," individuals can recognize and translate their own personal health and weight trends in relation to chosen foods. Learn how to journal effectively and the benefits of its practice here.

How to Journal Effectively

Keeping a food journal or diet journal is essentially tracking down the foods consumed across a timespan. Dietitians promote the use of food journals, as it offers them a more detailed assessment of dietary patterns and habits, subsequently allowing the chance to individualize and tailor nutritional recommendations. But beyond a professional standpoint, keeping a food journal allows individuals to learn more about their own eating habits. And while documents can be as detailed or vague as desired, but most dietitians and nutrition encourage the following guidelines and tips:

• Include at least three weekdays and the weekend, but try documenting every day if able to. Write down the food item and the amount consumed, being as detailed as possible. The more information and detail provided, the better!

• Consider what you were doing and how you felt while eating. Whether it be watching television, feeling sad, or dining with friends, it is important to recognize both the environment and associated emotions.

• Record everything you eat and drink immediately following their intake. Putting in an entry directly after meals and snacks reduces the risk of forgetting foods and their portion sizes, as well as surrounded feelings during their consumption.

• Be honest with yourself! The food journal is for you... So do not be embarrassed or discouraged of decisions, as each entry will only help you in the long run.

• At the end of the day, reflect on your food journal entries. Examine how your emotions fueled your choices and any dietary patterns you may notice.

Benefits of Food Journaling

Eye Opening

Writing down foods can increase awareness of dietary patterns, including how often you eat and how much of it you consume. It may be extremely eye opening to compare what you actually are eating compared to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, including various colored fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, and oils.

Increased Mindfulness

Recognizing emotions that provoke or follow mealtimes can encourage the provision of mindful eating. Being mindful doing mealtimes is essentially tuning into how foods make you feel and heightens food appreciation. It further helps the mind and body to sync real hunger pangs, subsequently reducing the risk of binging on unhealthful foods, including mindlessly eating during bouts of boredom.

Provokes Accountability

Considering each entry is based on your choices and emotions, it provokes accountability of actions. However, it is extremely important to not feel guilty regarding food intake, as it opens the window to gain control and alter food patterns.

Allergen Detection

In addition to the benefits associated to food appreciation and weight loss, keeping a food journal can be beneficial in detecting food allergies. If suspicious of a food allergen, be as detailed as possible to help pinpoint the culprit. Consult with an allergist or immunologist for the best guidance, as food allergies can be extremely harmful and potentially fatal without the proper care.

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on November 07, 2012. Updated on April 27, 2017.


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