Last week, we saw how maintaining a food journal can be more beneficial than you think. It makes you aware of your diet, which further helps in better diet planning and better execution. So, it’s established then that we should have a food journal.
Now, the next question is what we should include in it. In this post, we’ll answer that for you, so that without wasting much time, you can start maintaining your food diary as early as possible. From today, perhaps? We’d love that!
Here are the things you should include in your food journal.
Diet – What did you eat?
This is simple. Write down what you eat. And by that, we mean everything. Including the beverages and the glasses of water, and that bite of a cookie that you borrowed from your colleague. Everything.
Amount/Quantity – How much did you eat?
Your food diary should have information about the amount or quantity of food you consume. Everything you eat must be measured and written down, whether in terms of teaspoons, tablespoons, cups, glasses, or portions on a plate. You can use your own ways to measure, but do measure and write them down.
It will help you track the days when you consume more when you could have totally done with lesser quantity. Over a few days, you will understand the amount of food your body needs, to keep you energetic and active through the day.
Time and Frequency – When did you eat? Or did not?
When do you eat and when do you skip meals, is an important factor in diet. You may be surprised to know that you probably skip meals owing to work, more often than you think you do. This will help you track and manage the frequency and timing of your meals.
Feelings/Emotions – What did you feel after eating?
Feelings will help you to track three things primarily – your energy levels, mood, and stress level. Some kinds of food may create happy feelings, while some may make you feel negative. For example, if you have cheated on your diet plan, you are more likely to feel bad about it.
Keep a record of how your diet makes you feel through the day. You may land up with interesting insights. Maybe that feeling of stress could be caused by hunger, or that feeling of exhaustion in the evening could be dealt with by adding a small healthy snack, sometime after lunch.
Symptoms – Is your body reacting in a certain way after meals?
Writing down any symptoms you notice such as stomach ache, headache, constipation etc. will help you find patterns and causes that might be leading to these symptoms, allowing you to eliminate them over a period of time.
Bowel/Urine Habits – Are your bowel movements regular?
This will tell you how your body is processing food. You will also understand what you need to avoid or consume more of, to ensure healthy and regular bowel movements and urination.
Now, you don’t have to be a perfect organizer to maintain a food journal. You can do it in a diary, or a small notebook. You can choose to do it at the end of every day (in which case you should have good memory) or after every meal. There are no rules about how you should maintain your food journal. Do it in a way that’s most convenient for you. Just make sure you are reaping the benefits by including all that we’ve discussed above.