My pre-teen diary held all of my juiciest secrets: the boy I was crushing on, how I felt about my mom’s latest punishment, and what I really thought about that girl. After my mom wished me sweet dreams, I would start my nightly ritual. I went to my secret hiding place (which, apparently wasn’t so secret because my cousin found out), and would reflect on my day. I scribed every detail on the pages, making sure to focus on how I feel. Those were the days….
Now, I barely have time to write a shopping list, let alone write all my feelings down. And that personal blog I started….yea right! It hasn’t been updated since forever! But, at times in my life, I do keep a diary and it ain’t no secret! I write a food diary, and while it doesn’t mention anything about that guy I saw at the grocery store, it is packed with what I ate from the market. However, I can admit that my food journaling isn’t as ritualistic or consistent as I like, but if I keep that as one of my new year’s resolutions, I encourage you to do the same. Let’s do this!
When you write it all down, every crumb and morsel, you have a chance to reflect on your meal and use that information to assess what you’re putting in your body. I know that when I was journaling, I was able to reference back to the pages to check if I ate enough servings of fruits and vegetables, or if I drank enough water for the day. Although the diary of my younger years contained all of the juicy secrets, my food diary only holds juicy foods….no secrets allowed! When I’m not food journaling, I’ll take an occasional ride through the drive-thru, pig out, and forget about it all. But when I was journaling, I can remember feeling almost ashamed to write down all those fried goodies that I put into my body. Check yourself before you wreck yourself, because only you can keep your diet free from dirty secrets.
To start keeping track of the snacks you pack, try these tips to stay fit:
- Start fresh. The dawn of the new year would be a great start in your food diary writings. Write it down as one of your resolutions, and make sure you stick to it!
- Keep it old school. Grab that pen and pad and keep it in your purse. Make sure to pull it out after every meal. Don’t leave home without it! I find that it’s a rare occasion to use my handwriting skills, so use this time to actually use your fine motor skills and write what you bite.
- Break it down. If you’re just scribing from scratch, there are many ways that you can record your grub. Maybe you want to break it down by meals and snacks. Or maybe you work better with lists. However you do it, make sure it’s easy for you to refer back to and keep it consistent. You can record calories, or just keep track of servings from the food pyramid. Whatever your method, try to include a section where you can record how you feel, because that will help you choose how you pick your next meal.
- Fill in the blanks. There are plenty of blank food journals out there, some even including an area for physical activity! One food journal I kept had areas where I can count off the servings from each food group, so at the end of the day, I would know if I consumed all I need if all the circles were filled in. Might as well keep it all in one place so you really know what you’re doing to your body.
- Go digital. This day and age you’ll find any app out there to make your life easier in some magical way. I’ve tried out a few different apps for my iPhone and they’ve been pretty helpful for those times when I wanted to pack lightly and keep my journal at home. Lose It! is a free download that has plenty of common foods in the database. You can even choose a target weight loss goal and the app will calculate how many calories you can consume daily in your given timeline. It was great to search through all of the foods and find calorie amounts for that salad I made at home. And for my mama’s cooking, I’d just guess the calorie amount, based on lists of ingredients, and add it in myself.
- Pressure your peers. If your family and friends are up on the food diary tip, you won’t feel like such a weirdo if you pull out your journal after a nice dinner. Make it a habit to write it all down together, and you’ll feel good together too!
- Make it a habit. The consumption of food involves different rituals. For instance, everybody has to wash their hands beforehand! Make it a habit to take those few minutes right after a meal to write down what you ate, how much of it you consumed, and how it’s making you feel. Sometimes it even helps to go back a few hours after a meal to go back and keep track of what your body is going through. This will not only help your digestion, but it will also help with future decision making.
- Go back in time. No, I don’t mean go back to before you binged on ice cream! Reflect back to your food diary to recall what you ate on certain days, and how you felt after eating it. If you find days when you wish you didn’t shove that thing in your face, then you’ll remember that and most likely not have a repeating occurrance.
I hope that you find that keeping a food diary will help you feel more in touch with yourself. Then, months down the road, when you fit into those dreamy jeans, you’ll look back to your records and think to yourself, “How could I ever ever put that in my body?!?!”