Why keep a food and activity journal?
Awareness is an important part of making lasting changes for healthy living. Keeping a journal is a good way to become aware of what you eat (and how much), what you do, how you feel and any habits you may have.
- Commit to writing in your journal every day and reflect on what you may have learned that day.
- Write down times to help you figure out any habits (such as when you ate or how long you were active).
- Try to keep your journal with you at all times, so you can write things down before you forget.
- In case you don’t have your journal with you, write a note and add it later.
Looking back… To move forward
Each day look at what you wrote down in your journal and find ways to make small, healthy changes in your daily life. You may be surprised by what you find out and how valuable your newfound knowledge can be.
Taking it all in
- Write down what you eat and drink each day, starting when you wake up and ending when you go to bed.
- Try to include how much you ate (portion sizes). If you’re not sure, estimate. This will help you get an idea how much you eat each day.
- Jot down symptoms, thoughts and feelings for each entry to help you see why you make certain choices.
- To understand why you want to eat (hunger, mood, routine, etc.), ask yourself, “Am I truly hungry?” and take note of this in your journal.
Taking it in stride
- Write down your physical activity each day– include what kind of things you did and how much time you spent doing them (like running or walking for 30 minutes).
- Be sure to include everyday activities, such as doing household chores and walking the dog.
Taking care of your whole self
- Jot down anything that may reflect how you feel each day.
- Be sure to include hobbies and time spent with others.
Food for thought
- For each day, write down what comes to mind—any goals, insights or questions you may have.
- Include questions and concerns you want to discuss with your family doctor at your next visit.
Whether you are trying to lose weight or simply trying to improve your health, the choices you make each day make a difference.
- Download an example of the food and activity journal. (PDF file: 1 page/616 KB)
- Download a blank, 5-day food and activity journal. (PDF file: 5 pages/612 KB)
- Adapted with permission from Am I Hungry? What to Do When Diets Don’t Work. Michelle May, M.D., with Lisa Galpher, Psy.D., and Janet Carr, M.S., R.D. Nourish Publishing. Copyright 2005 Michelle May, M.D.
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.