1. Bite it and write it. If you write meals and snacks down after you eat it, you will not forget it. Also, try not to forget about those sneaky snacks, like the candy bar at work or the few bites you finished off your kids’ plate.
2. Keep it handy. If your food diary is not convenient, it will be a lot harder to stick to. Pick a journal that is easily portable, and fits in your handbag or briefcase. Since you want to write foods down immediately after eating them, it is important to have a journal you can take with you. You could also write on a small notepad throughout the day and update your journal every night.
3. Be specific. The quantity of what you eat matters! Instead of writing “a handful of crackers”, write 10 crackers. It is also good to start getting in the habit of measuring your food, so you know how much of a portion you are eating.
4. Research and record. Try not only writing down what you eat, but also recording the calories and nutritional information of what you eat. You might be surprised by what you learn, and this is also a good way to start getting in the habit of reading food labels.
5. Focus on patterns. While it can be difficult to write down slip-ups, try to focus on observing what you eat and why instead of judging. You may notice patterns that can help you- for example, if you always resort to eating sugar in the late afternoon, you might realize that you should eat a heartier lunch or plan to have a healthy, filling snack at that time. This is not about making you feel bad about your choices. Food journaling is just an opportunity to start making change for the better.
Hopefully, these tips will set you on the path to more mindful eating. Consider consulting a registered dietitian nutritionist, and bringing your food journal with you. A dietitian can help you see patterns in what you eat, and provide support and information to make positive change.
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Andrea Berez MS, RD, CSP
Kara Unal JD, RYT