Awareness is an important part of making lasting changes for healthy living. For some people, keeping a journal is a good way to be more mindful. You can keep track of what, when, and how much you eat. You also can log what you do and how you feel.
Path to improved health
When you start a food and activity journal, try to capture everything. This means logging everything you eat and do throughout your day.
Write down what you eat and drink all day. Start when you wake up and end when you go to bed. Include how much you ate (portion sizes). If you’re not sure, use an estimate. This will give you an idea of how much you consume each day. If possible, record the amount of calories you ate or drank. Capture your water intake as well. It is important to stay hydrated throughout the day.
With each meal or entry, ask yourself, “Am I truly hungry?” You might be starving, need a snack, or not be hungry at all. Take note of this in your journal. It helps to write down your thoughts, feelings, and symptoms. They play a part in why you want to eat. Doing these things will help you make better choices in the future.
Write down your physical activity each day. Include the type and length of time. For instance, you ran for 30 minutes or bicycled for an hour. Be sure to include routine things, such as doing household chores and walking the dog. Add a note to capture your thoughts, feelings, and symptoms. This could be how you felt before and after, or if you had any pain.
Your whole self
Jot down anything that you reflect on throughout the day. This could be emotions, insights, or goals. Be sure to include hobbies and time spent with others. You also should make note of any questions or concerns that you want to discuss with your doctor.
Things to consider
Below are tips to using a food and activity journal:
- Commit to writing in it every day. Reflect on what you have learned.
- Keep track of times to help you see out your patterns or habits. This could be when you ate, how long you were active, or what you felt.
- Try to carry your journal with you, so you can write things down before you forget.
- If you don’t have your journal, write a note and add it in later.
Each day, look at what you wrote down in your journal. Compare it to other days to learn patterns and become more aware. For instance, did you eat from all five food groups? Did you skip a meal? This assessment will help you make healthy changes in your daily life. You may be surprised by what you find out and how helpful a journal can be. Whether you want to lose weight or simply improve your health, the choices you make each day make a difference.
If you find it hard to keep a paper journal, consider an online journal. There are many mobile apps that allow you to track food, drink, and activity. Try to find an app that has an emotional or mental component as well. Examples include Rise Up, My Fitness Pal, Yazio, and Lose It!
Questions to ask your doctor
- How much should I eat and drink each day?
- How much activity should I do each day?
- What do my feelings have to do with losing weight or living healthy?
- What kind of goals should I make when using a food and activity journal?
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.