With it still being the first month of the year, many of you are still sticking to your New Year’s resolutions of getting fit and healthy. If you haven’t already, think about keeping a food journal. Here’s five reasons why you should.
1. It keeps you accountable.
When you’re having a rough day and you grab a pack of Oreos, it’s easy to eat more than the suggested three cookies. If you start writing down everything you eat, it will be easier to stick to the serving size or less when you know you have to write it down. Who wants to look at their food journal and see that they ate five cookies for a snack? I’d rather see three!
2. You can track how you feel after you eat certain foods.
This may seem like a reason that you don’t need a food journal for, but it’s important. After eating a meal, write down how you feel. If something disagrees with you, but you’re not sure what, you’ll start to see trends after keeping a food journal for awhile. This will help you realize what you may need to cut or reduce from your diet. It could also help you to know if you have a slight intolerance to an ingredient, such as dairy or gluten. (Always consult with a doctor to see if you’re actually allergic to something.)
3. You can see how many calories you’re taking in.
When keeping a food journal, you should include serving sizes and nutritional information when possible. This will help you keep track of calories. You might be surprised how many calories are in certain foods.
4. You can see your progress.
After a few months, you can see how much your diet/lifestyle has changed. The point of the food journal is to help you make healthy choices. Looking back at your first entries, you should see progress from there. You can still indulge in sweets, but now that you’re aware of the calories, you might think twice before grabbing that second sliver of pie.
5. You can better plan future meals.
Knowing calorie counts of foods you eat often can help you better plan meals. You’ll know when you can indulge on a high-calorie side dish if the main course is lighter on the cals. This will help you have more balanced meals overall.
If you think this sounds tough or you’re turned off by the thought of carrying around a journal everywhere you go, have no fear. There are tons of apps that are made just for this. My personal favorite is MyFitnessPal. It’s a free online/app food and exercise journal. Many foods are already in its system, so you can just type them in. If your item is not listed, you can add it by typing in the info or scanning the barcode on the food’s package. It also has an exercise portion to count the calories you burn so you can stay on track for your daily calorie intake.