What is my #1 tool for helping a client lose more weight, uncover hidden food sensitivities and improve their mood and digestion? A food journal.
Writing down what you eat and drink each day is powerful and revealing. Consider the following areas where keeping a food journal can help you make better food choices and improve your health:
1. More Weight Loss
Studies have shown that women who keep a food journal lose more weight than women who don’t. Noting everything that you have consumed in a day, from that giant muffin at the morning office meeting to the bowl of ice cream with your kids in the evening, helps you get a handle on exactly how many calories you are consuming each day – and the nutritional value of those calories.
Writing it down can bring bad food habits to light. If you see foods like chips, candy bars, ice cream, coffee drinks, or other weight loss sabotaging foods consistently noted in your journal, then it becomes clear where the extra calories are coming from, and what to cut. It can also help you learn if your hunger is true hunger, or only your body’s response to stress, loneliness, or boredom.
Keeping a food journal shows you clearly if you are not eating enough – both in quantity and variety. Severely restricting your calories or skipping meals (blank spots in your journal) usually leads to fatigue and uncontrollable cravings. At the end of the week, a quick scan of what you ate tells you how you are doing in the vegetable department and if you can do more to limit salt and sweets.
2. Uncover Hidden Food Sensitivities
Noting how you feel after you eat, both immediately and a couple of hours later, can be revealing. Try eliminating wheat, eggs, corn or dairy from your diet for a week, then reintroduce them one at a time in the usual amounts. Carefully note your mood, your skin, your sinuses, and your digestion while off of certain foods and then again when you resume eating them. You may find that constipation and bloating, skin problems, acid reflux or chronic sinus drainage is linked to a certain food.
3. Discover the Best Foods for You
Keeping a food journal can help you find the right foods for you – the foods that enable you to enjoy each day with a clear head and ample energy to tackle the challenges that life throws your way. Experiment with different ways of eating, starting with breakfast. Eat something different each day, and note how you feel mid-morning. Are you digging in the bottom of your purse for change for the vending machine? Or did your breakfast choice hold you until lunch? Are you foggy and sluggish, or clear headed and focused?
You can also experiment with your diet by increasing your raw foods, such as raw vegetables, fruit, seeds and nuts. Make 25-50% of your diet raw, and see how you feel. Eliminate meat for a week, and note how your body responds. You may find that you do better with less meat and more raw foods. Or you may find that your body does better with cooked foods and some animal products. But you’ll never know until you try it, and carefully note how your body responds.
Have you benefited from using a food journal? Please share by posting a comment below.