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Keeping a Nutrition Journal

One of the tough parts about maintaining a healthy diet is keeping track of all the foods and beverages we consume every day. Without documenting details of what's been consumed, it's easy to lose track of calories and break healthy habits. Keeping a nutrition journal can be a solution. Not only does it help you keep tabs on how much you've eaten, but it also helps you track your eating patterns.

Try to be as specific as possible when documenting the information in the journal. This will help you become more aware of what you are eating and when. It will also help to identify certain pitfalls you may experience and small changes that can be made, such as using light mayonnaise versus regular.

You may want to include columns for time, description, hunger level, mood and location.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • In the time section, be sure to record the time you started the meal and the time you finished the meal.
  • When describing foods, include brand names, restaurant names and method of preparation (bake, broiled, fried, etc.), and don't forget to include any condiments, dressings and beverages.
  • Noting your hunger level and mood can be very telling details regarding eating patterns and habits. For example, if you tend to eat when you are anxious, this may be a sign of emotional eating. Noting hunger levels during meals can help you adjust meal times and alert you to certain tendencies, such as eating when you're already full.
  • The location in which you eat can affect the satisfaction you get from your meals. Ideally, you should be eating away from any distractions, such as TV, so that all of your focus is on the food (taste, texture, smell). Noting the location of meals may also help you recognize patterns - for example, you may have a tendency to eat less healthy foods in larger portions when you are eating at a restaurant.