Food is like finances. If you’ve ever worked with a financial coach or worked through any of the Dave Ramsey books, one of the first thing that you are supposed to do is write down every expense – to the penny – to see where your money is going.

It’s the same way with food. I have every one of my clients keep a food journal when we start working together, so they can get a good picture of what they are actually eating vs. what they think they’re eating.

Most people think that they are eating pretty well overall. But inevitably, the first week they come in with their journal, they usually say something like, “this was a really busy week, I don’t usually eat this way”. I tell them that’s ok and we go on with the appointment.

You have to stop and think about what you’re really eating and makes you think about if you want that extra peice of cake. So many people are eating way more refined foods and sugar than they realize.It also helps you to see patterns of times in your day when you make poor choices or that you barely eat throughout the day and binge at night. Maybe you have something sweet to eat at your 10:00 break every day.

It can help you identify food sensitivities. So many people struggle with symptoms of food sensitivity – headaches, eczema, constipation, diarrhea, bloating. Having a food journal can help you to spot patterns of when these things happen.

Here’s some tips on how to keep a food journal so you see the benefits from it.

1. Be specific about food and portions – Many people guess way less in some areas – like sweets – and way more in other areas – like vegetables. Record every single bit, just like you would every single penny. Also, be specific about your symptoms and moods throughout the day. Note if you had a headache or were irritable.

2. Write it out – There is something to be said for actually having to stop and write something out on paper that makes you really slow down and think. If you want to get started quickly and easily today, download the food journal below!

3. Take a picture with your phone – Having to stop and click a picture can make you think twice about what you’re eating. It also is a good way to look back over food and portions throughout the day.

4. Get accountability – whether it’s a friend, or a professional that you are working with, having someone you are accountable to will help you think twice and be more concious about your food choices.

Use an app

If you look for a food tracker in the App Store, you will no doubt find something that will fit your needs (and budget) perfectly. Here are a few of my favorites that I’ve used or had clients use.

1. My fitness Pal – probably the most comprehensive database of foods and also the most well known. This app also allows you to invite someone in for that accountability.

2. Cara – this is a food tracking app that helps to locate patterns for food sensitivities. This is a great one if you suspect, or know, that you have food sensitivities.

3. Rise Up – this one was made for people with eating disorders in mind. So, if that’s something you’ve struggled with, this may be the perfect app for you.

Have you ever used a food journal? Did it help you stay on track with eating?

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