This habit serves several purposes…, and is not just a case of writing down what you’re eating.
Keeping a journal can help you see the bigger picture, and all the factors involved in the whole experience of eating. For example:
– where you are
– the time of day
– who you’re with
– what food is available to you
– your current mood
– energy and stress levels
Before starting to record how you’re eating, you need to be clear on why you’re doing this. Specifically:
– What do you want to learn about yourself?
– What do you want to change about the way you eat?
Depending on your answer here, there are two methods for keeping a food journal.
Paper and pen…
Finding the tools and methods that allow you to track those indicators consistently, like in-app food journaling or a pen-and-paper system.
Reflecting thoughtfully and objectively on the data to analyze for patterns, asking questions like: how does the way that you eat change…
– throughout a day?
– day-to-day throughout a week?
– related to other physical factors, like how you sleep or how much you move?
– related to other deep health factors like your environment, relationships, mental or emotional state?
Using the data to inform targeted changes in the way that you eat, getting you closer to your goals.
What are you eating?
How much are you eating?
How are you eating? (e.g. quickly, slowly, distracted, etc.)
When are you eating?
Why are you eating? Are you hungry, or bored, or is it for emotional reasons? Or because the clock says it’s time to eat?
How do you feel physically and emotionally before, during, and after eating?
Where are you and who are you with?
Was there something interesting or special about this meal? (e.g., “Mom’s recipe”, “organic chicken from market”)
Anything else noteworthy about the situation? (e.g., “Rushing to meeting”, “Great birthday dinner!”)
If you’re trying to lose weight, we know you need to eat fewer calories. However, saying, “I want to eat fewer calories” is a very unspecific goal.
Instead, a more specific goal would be, “I want to understand how my eating varies over the week, and to get clues about what causes me to eat more at certain times. If I understand that, I might be able to make my eating patterns more consistent.”