What Is A Food Journal?
By: Morgan Cherry, Samford University Dietetic Intern
What’s one way to keep yourself accountable for working towards a healthy lifestyle? Have you heard of tracking your food intake and exercise goals? A food and exercise journal or log is where the individual writes down everything eaten or drank during the given day. This can benefit the individual in numerous ways as it brings awareness to portion sizes, provides motivation, and helps maintain goals.
It is important to keep an honest food log and include every little snack or bite of something that you have consumed throughout the day; this brings awareness to what and how much food is going into your body. This also includes condiments and portion sizes of each meal, snack, or drink. There may be days where you will write down what you had and may not be very happy with what you had consumed on that day; however, it is okay to enjoy treats in moderation, and it may also encourage you to get back on track and eat healthier the next day!
Tracking food intake and exercise is important to keeping yourself accountable for a lifestyle change; nevertheless, it can get tedious at times. There are many apps out there that make tracking food a simple task. These apps could include but are not limited to MyFitnessPal, Lose It!, and Fat Secret. These three tools all have a general theme to input weight, height, and goal weight into the app, and then they generate a calorie goal that the user should strive for each day in order to assist with achieving his or her goal weight. Then, the user can enter food intake and completed physical activity for that day. The apps can send push notifications as reminders to complete the food log as well as provide motivational quotes to encourage healthy behavior.
Using apps on a mobile device may not be as easy or user-friendly for everyone. For someone who may have an intellectual disability or visual impairment, a caregiver may be able to provide assistance when recording food intake and exercise. For a less tech-savvy idea, a simple piece of paper and pen or journal could be used to log items. This may be especially beneficial for individuals that have limited use of their hands and find it challenging to utilize phones or other technology. Hand-written logs could be simplified even more as a log with boxes that check off the food and activity that was completed for the day. An example of what this could look like is provided below:
What drinks have you consumed today?
|O Water||O Regular Soda|
|O Milk||O Diet Soda|
|O Coffee||O Tea (sweet or unsweet)|
|O Juice||O Alcoholic Beverages|
|O Lemonade||O Gatorade/Powerade|
|O Sparkling Flavored Water||O Energy Drinks|
These logs could be uploaded into assistive technology devices where individuals click on the boxes of the foods that they have consumed and/or the exercise to mark as completed. Particular assistive technology may also read aloud the record journal.
Overall, food and exercise logs are a wonderful way to stay accountable for a healthy lifestyle. Individuals should be encouraged to trial multiple different options or apps to log food and activity and decide which strategy benefits him or her most.