Choose your format
Choose a format for your food journal that works best for you, whether it's a spiral notebook or an Excel spreadsheet. However you track your diet, make sure to write things down as soon as possible after eating. You may want to carry a small notepad with you so you can jot down notes and transfer them to your food journal later. You may think you'll be able to later recall what you ate and how you felt, but it's hard to remember the pertinent information from every snack and meal, so strive to keep on top of your entries.
Decide what to include
What you record in your food journal is up to you. You can choose to keep track of calories, carbs, portion size, your reasons for eating, and how you feel before and after eating - whatever pertains most to your personal situation and your food goals. Whatever you decide to include, keep it simple. Part of a food journal's value lies in the ability to easily scan past entries and identify patterns, so don't bog down your entries with too many details.
A food journal is helpful only if you are honest about your eating habits. Fibbing about what or how much you ate won't serve you in meeting your goals. Though it may be difficult to own up to your snacking slip-ups, try to be honest in your entries. Remember, no one has to see your food journal except for you.
In the front of your food journal, leave a few blank pages. As you discover what foods do and don't work with your smaller stomach, write them down so you can eliminate future guesswork. Try keeping these lists, or think up some other helpful food categories:
- Foods that sound good at the time but leave you feeling bloated, upset your stomach, or simply aren't worth the indulgence. The next time temptation strikes, it'll be easier to resist if you've already placed the food item on your "bad foods" list.
- Foods that leave you feeling energized and satisfied so you always know which snacks to turn to when hunger strikes
- Favorite indulgences that you can allow yourself in moderation.
- Foods that you can substitute when you're tempted to eat junk food. For instance, try a piece of fruit instead of a candy bar to satisfy your sweet tooth. Keep track of how you felt after eating the healthier substitute and whether or not you still craved the initial food. The next time the craving strikes, you'll know how to handle it!