Originally posted at www.opare.net.
By Nana Kwaku Opare, MD, MPH, CA
Recently there have been news reports about the importance of keeping a food journal for weight loss. Here is a link to a report from ABC news.
Keeping a Food Journal has been a part of my integrative approach to healing for many years. It is an important part of your healing process and can support your when you are making diet and lifestyle changes. The journal allows you to see connections between what you eat and do and how you feel. Take it with you wherever you go.
Here are the instructions we give to all of our patients:
How to do a food journal
Many people are familiar with a diary. A food diary is a record of what the person eats over a period of time. Typically in traditional dietetics a person would write down what, how much and when foods and beverages are consumed. This is a basic tool for determining the nutrient and caloric intake a person consumes. However this method is limited in its utility to assist in change.
Dr. Opare recommends a food journal that combines documenting food and beverage intake with thoughts, events, feeling states and other observations the person experiences throughout the day. Food journaling helps a person identify and understand how the way they eat affects the way they feel. It can help them understand that how they feel also conversely affects the way they eat. Journaling helps identify addictive patterns in relation to food. It helps identify what foods are beneficial or harmful for the person. It assists Dr. Opare in helping his patients in transitioning to healthier patterns of food consumption.
Your food journal belongs to you. It is for your use and is a private document that you should keep private. If you want to directly share it with your physician that’s great. If not, that’s ok as well. Dr. Opare often discusses with his patients their journal entries. He request that patients/clients bring their journals with them to appointments and classes/groups.
This is how it is done:
Keep your journal for as long as you can. The more detailed and the longer you keep it the more it can help you.
- It is best to use a bound journal with lines or quadrille ruled.
- Make liberal use of space and words. Use as many pages per day as you need.
- Start a new page with each day and date each page.
- What and when you eat/drink include the brand name and how it was prepared.
- How much you eat/drink including size and number of portions.
- How you emotionally felt before and after you ate/drank it.
- What you were doing when you ate/drank it.
- What and when were your activities/exercise that day.
- What and when were the drugs or medications you took that day.
- What and when were the recreational substances you took that day including tobacco and how you felt as a consequence.
- How you slept the night before.
- How your body felt that day.
- How your libido and sexual functioning is that day.
- Dreams you remember from the night before.
- Thoughts, feelings or ideas you had that day.
Remember this is FOR YOU! If you do a partial or incomplete job in writing your journal you will limit how much can be gotten out of it. If you put all of your sincerity into your journal it can be a very powerful tool in helping you claim the vibrant healthy you that is you!