5 Reasons why keeping a food journal will help you reach your goals
You may have heard that keeping a food journal is important, but you may not be sure of why. We here at NFM want to share some considerations for those interested in getting more out of their diet. Food journaling can be exactly what you need so long as you remember to keep an open mind and to be willing to change. If you’ve suffered with eating disorders in the past please consult your Doctor before starting this journal process. When considering if it’s right for you, ask yourself these questions:
- Will this help me achieve my goals?
- Am I obsessed or overly concerned about food?
- Can I be objective about my food choices?
- Do I know what balanced eating looks like?
- Can I be ok with adding in calories?
It’s no secret that nutrition is a critical component of our overall well being, but what does that mean? We have to eat right? What are “good” calories and what are “empty” calories? We will touch on what the difference is for the sake of food journaling, but that’s a much larger conversation we will save for another article in the near future.
First, we would define “good” calories as those that are nutrient dense and not full of outside, often inorganic preservatives, artificial colors and refined sugars. Simply put, good calories are from beyond organic, farm first, whole foods. When using supplements the same logic is in play. Whole food based supplements will be best for your body, because they simply cause less stress in being broken down, which speeds up their ability to be absorbed into the body. Less stress equals whole body efficiency.
Bad calories? Well, just reverse the last paragraph. Overly processed, artificially sweetened and artificially preserved foods are just more stress on the body. These foods are harder for the body to process and filter because of their low calorie quality. Our bodies have a unique ability to know where to send nutrients as soon as you start chewing it. Steering clear of food that’s highly processed will be super helpful. The body cannot route what it cannot recognize as a nutrient. Sure, we all enjoy our share of these calories, and that’s ok as long as balance is tipping more toward the previously described good calories, to the tune of about 80% on average.
With those baselines being set, you can now move to the next layer in the cake of conversation as it pertains to the food journal. What is that layer? We are glad you asked! The next important thing to note is what your body needs on a day to day basis. This can be easily discovered by sitting down with a nutritionist, talking to your doctor about getting a DEXA scan or even going to Nutrishop and doing an InBody scan. This will get you close enough. The baseline calories burned at rest shows you your nutritional window. At this point you are ready for journaling!
So what does all this have to do with keeping a food journal? Let us tell you! In the process of logging food in your food journal you learn a lot of things.
Keeping the journal week after week is hard, but consistency will lead to some big payoffs-both seeing how to replace your favorite foods with the whole food version.
As you log your food you start to see a few patterns, and those patterns need to shift some behavior. The process of eliminating habits that hinder may take some time and this is where you will need to be objective. Don’t be hard on yourself if you can’t identify the patterns that need to be addressed. Here is where you can pull in a qualified professional. Like your trainer, nutrition coach or dietitian.
Now that you know your patterns, the adjustments can be filtered in. Adjust the calories in or maybe the calories out. Maybe you’re eating too little, too late in the day, too much, or not enough balance. While you’re journaling your food make sure you also record things like what you are doing and the times of day. These are also helpful things to consider when it pertains to overall food awareness. We can’t adjust what we don’t know may be hurting us.
People who keep a food journal will be more successful with the overall weight loss process. Studies have shown this time and time again, accountability works. Journaling is accountability that’s easy on the wallet. In one weight loss study of nearly 1,700 participants, those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records.
Eventually your work pays off in the form of lower anxiety of eating the wrong things and the wrong amounts. After playing with your food (see what we did there) you’ll get quite comfortable inside the borders of balance. You may even get to the point where you don’t need to track it all.
In short: you are far more likely to be successful at your goal of achieving whole health, weight loss and/ or muscle building when you are disciplined in keeping a food journal. You will receive the education from your own diligence and become the teacher yourself. Not only will this education help solidify your success, but also in passing it on by teaching your family. If we can carry on this way, can you imagine how the future of health could be in generations to come. It’s all about making the complex simple and sometimes you just need to break it into one piece at a time so that it’s more digestible.