Isn’t there an app for that? The answer to this question is as per usual: sure there is! Food diaries are one of the best tools for learning more about what’s on your daily plate. Personally I have kept a food journal at very specific times in my life; not to lose weight but to examine my eating patterns in order to make healthier choices, and also when I travel or move somewhere new. If I am feeling sans energy, I keep track of the food I eat for a week and examine it to find areas where I can make positive changes, like adding a fruit to my lunch or having more veggies at dinner. If I move to a new city and call a new place home, I keep a food record for the first month so I that I don’t lose focus on my long term healthy eating approach while I am in a transition period and adjusting to a new environment. Food diaries help us manage our eating approach and maintain portion control as well.
Also, food diaries are fun tools to use while traveling or on vacation. I studied abroad in Costa Rica in 1999 and kept a food journal so I could look back years later and reminisce about all the exotic things I ate. I did the same when I went on a culinary expedition in Thailand, however this time I used my camera to photo-journal my eating adventure. If you are trying to not overeat while on vacation, writing down the foods you eat and the beverages you drink at each meal can help keep you on track and prevent you from going overboard at the buffet. It can also help you recall tasty new foods you tried and would like to eat again.
There are all sorts of different ways to keep a food diary. There are food tracking apps for your smart phone, however my suggestion is to not concentrate on calories when journaling. I feel that your focus should be on food, not numbers. You can always resort to the old school method, the paper and pencil approach, however I recommend using recycled paper. Instagram, for example, is an open diary of sorts, a public display of your life and is a super fun way to share with your friends your personal eating approach.
Cameras serve as a really handy tool when it comes to questions you may have about a particular food. Snap a shot of a food you want to learn more about, or one you find concerning or intriguing. If you have nutrition questions about a food, take a picture and ask a dietitian what they know about the food in question. As the expression goes, “a picture says a thousand words.”
Let me know how you use food diaries to educate yourself, and to learn and grow from your personal eating experiences.