When I started out in the nutrition world I would try to put to practice everything I learned. One week it would be vitamin C week. As I was studying Vitamin C’s biochemical pathways I would be peeling a few oranges. Looking back, it was a bit more than ridiculous.
When we were studying Canada’s Food Guide, I tracked what I ate to make sure I was getting all the food groups and nutrients I needed. This exercise actually was useful. I was able to see just what I ate and when I ate it.
Journaling your food intake for a few days is a great awareness exercise. Writing it down actually tends to change you’re eating for the better. Research is clear that food journaling is a great accountability tool and one of the most reliable ways to be aware of all that goes into your mouth. Often, it is that mindless eating that gets caught in this exercise.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting you become obsessed with every morsel. This is short-term – a few days – of learning how you eat so you know what opportunities there are to eat healthier. It is often the step that is forgotten. We get determined to eat better and forget to look at what we are already doing before we start to make changes (think me, munching on oranges).
When recording, try to do it throughout the day or at the end of each day. It is tough for me to remember what I ate last night let alone every snack in the past 24 hours! Include beverages, time and where you have eaten. They are all required to get an accurate picture of your full day’s intake and what is affecting it. At least one week-end day is also a must. We all eat differently on week-ends.
Many websites offer templates for food journals if you would like something concrete to go by. There are also free website programs that are more in-depth. In Canada, check out Foodtracker and in the US try MyPyramid Tracker. Whatever way you record, hang onto it. Next, we will be talking about how to determine if you are getting all the nutrients your body requires and what to do about it.
Hugs and blessings,