Nutrition Tip of the Week: Food Journaling!
Looking to eat a little healthier? Want to evaluate your eating habits? Food logging or journaling is a great first step.
- It is hard to evaluate your progress if you do not have a starting point. Start by food logging for three days. Next identify one thing that you would like to change—for example: I drank 500 calories in soda every day—that is all empty calories! I would have to run five miles to burn those extra calories! I will limit my soda to one, 12 oz can per day for two weeks, then work to eliminate it completely. I would rather get my calories from nutritious food that will help fuel my body well.
- A food log can help identify an unhealthy pattern. For example: Wow, I only had one serving of vegetables in three days! I will make my goal to consume at least one serving of vegetables every day for two weeks, then add more from there.
Food logging can be simply writing down what you eat in a paper or computer based journal. However, many people find logging food with an app or website to be an easier method. There are many apps available for this purpose—My Fitness Pal, Strava, FITBIT, just to name a few. Many apps are available at no cost. Some benefits to using an app include features to set your own goals (anything from reducing sodium consumption to weight loss), large data bases of food already available, and automatic nutrient calculations.
Some key things to think about when journaling:
- Be sure to include the quantity of food you ate (instead of ‘sweet potato’, enter 5 oz of sweet potato). How do you know how much you ate? Measure it! Try a food scale or measuring cups. (most potatoes and sweet potatoes are much larger than a 5 oz serving)
2. Write down everything you ate—include condiments (did you put butter on that sweet potato? (if so, consider trying it without butter, or just half the amount of butter)
3. Try writing food down before you eat it—that way you can make changes if you don’t like how it adds up (you may also be less likely to forget).
Food journaling may seem like a big task at first, but it is well worth the effort. One additional tip: give yourself grace. If you forget to log a meal for a day—don’t fret. Simply leave that day unlogged and start again—moving forward from now (not tomorrow or next week).