10 Tips for Keeping a Food Journal

Food Journal

Food Journal

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I won’t bore you with the details of why keeping a food journal will help you lose more weight than people who don’t.  If you haven’t heard that before or aren’t convinced, there are tons of articles on the internet that address the topic.  Instead, let’s talk about how to make your food journal work better.

1.       Tie it in with your planner so it’s more convenient!  If you have and use a planner, a food diary section just makes sense.  If you don’t want to create a specific section, create an 8-1/2 x 11 page for the week and keep it at the back of your journal or in one of the pockets.  If you need a food journal form for your planner or the 8-1/2 x 11 sheet, check here.

2.       Write down what you eat before you eat it.  That way if you’re making a mistake, you can correct it before the damage is done.

3.       Use detail.  Instead of writing “soup” write 1 cup of baked potato soup.  When you’re analyzing the data, “soup” isn’t very helpful.

4.       Analyze the data.  You can do this daily or at the end of the week or both.  But analyzing the data can make all the difference in how you do in the future.  For example, when you analyze the data, you discover that it’s candy that’s the problem.  So you cut back or eliminate the candy.  Or you see that you’re not eating very many fruits and vegetables so you make more of an effort to eat them.  One thing I’ve consistently discovered as I’ve analyzed the data is that it’s usually one thing that throws me over my calorie goal.  But you don’t see these things unless you analyze the data.  And since this is the one thing that makes the most difference for me, I’m giving you three samples.

Food Journal

Food Journal

Food Journal

5.       Write as you go.  It’s best if you write before you eat, but if you can’t or don’t want to do that, at least do it as soon after as possible.  If you wait until the end of the day, you’ll have a harder time remembering everything and then your journal might not be accurate.

6.       Don’t lie or fudge the truth.  If you ate it, write it.  When you leave things off because you’re embarrassed or ashamed, you only hurt yourself.

7.       Save your food journals.  Some people throw them away at the end of the day, but if you keep them, you can see patterns.  You can also have permanent records of calorie counts for various items rather than having to look them up each time.

8.       If you don’t want to write it down, there are lots of smart phone apps available for electronic counting.  I’ve played around with My Fitness Pal and Lose It.

9.       Combine electronic and paper.  The electronic food journal has some great features – like figuring your average and tracking your weight.  But I don’t like taking the time to enter the information.  My favorite method is keeping track on paper and then entering the information into the app later in the day.  It seems like the best of both worlds.

10.     Keep a food journal even if you’re not tracking points or calories.  Even though you don’t have calorie counts, the information is still valuable and you’re still benefiting from writing it down.  Also, if you notice that you’re not losing weight, you can take a look at your food journals and see what’s going on.

Do you keep a food journal? Is it electronic or paper? What are your tips?

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Born in Kentucky, I am a wife and mom to 1 son and 2 daughters . I have an ink pen obsession, as well as a love for all things planner. I have been married for 10 years to my high school crush. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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10 thoughts on “10 Tips for Keeping a Food Journal

  1. You know, the tip about writing it before you eat it s so smart. I used to use a food journal and would often fill out at the end of the day, thinking “oh, why did I do that???” about some entry or another (or five). Writing it on the stop before you eat is a great potential catch.

  2. I agree with Lisa. I wait until the end of the day and not only is it too late to “fix” it, but I can’t remember everything I ate. And conveniently, it’s the bad stuff that I forget about.

  3. I’m doing weight watchers and the apps they provide are so valuable and make everything easier. Many times, however, I’m not able to enter my food right away, so like you I keep a list in my planner (on the exact day) and enter it later. Once it’s been entered, it gets a check mark so I know what I’ve already entered and what I haven’t without needing to open the app. What’s in my planner is just a summary, a list with no point values, since that’s what the app is for.

  4. Yes, I keep a journal, but it has been separate from my planner and that makes it difficult to be consistent. But I lkie your 8.5 x 11 version and will incorparte that into the back of my personal FF as a fold out! I don’t count calories but I do try to indicate time of day to make sure I am keeping my energy up through out the work day and pre and post work out. TFS 🙂

    1. I like that form, too. It makes it easier to analyze if you can see the week. Putting in as a fold-out is a great idea.

      Sometimes I just print it out, fold it in half and half again, and keep it loose in the back of my planner. That works for me.

  5. As I am sitting here going through all the past posts (instead of going to bed), I am so excited to see this post about including a food journal in your planner. I teach one of the First Place 4 Health classes at my church and part of the program that has been hard for me is documentation. I try to use Myfitnesspal.com but it is so public and I have to work at it to much. The last form you have is perfect. I can include my Bible Study and a spot to write my memory verse daily and I would have everything in one shot. Again, you have opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities. I may actually bexable

    1. Yeah! So glad to hear the Food Journal will work well for you. I love having a food journal in my planner. It makes it a lot easier to keep track. And if you don’t like my forms, you can make your own!!!

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