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Food Journals

by Jamie Allers, RDN


Food Journals — The best gift you could get your Registered Dietitian (and yourself!)

Has your Dietitian ever asked you to complete a food journal? We are willing to bet that they have and for good reason! It may seem like a punishment at times, but hear us out and you might just change your mind about a food journal. This simple action not only helps your dietitian but can also help you to reach your goals.

Level Up Your Accountability Game

Using a food journal is one of the best ways to get started with more self-accountability. Checking in with yourself and what you are eating and drinking keeps your eye on the prize on a daily basis. With our busy lives, it is easy to lose sight of food choices or how many meals, days, weeks you might be off track for at a time. If you are keeping up with a food journal, you will notice right away when that birthday meal snowballed into the leftover cake at breakfast for the rest of the week. Your dietitian knows that researchers have shown evidence through studies that those who keep food journals are more successful with weight loss, and the accountability piece is a huge part of this!

A Roadmap to Success

7 days of what you ate may seem like scrap paper to you, but it is a roadmap to answers that your dietitian can work through with you. We often set scale goals (example: I want to lose 2 pounds per week!), but it is our behavior goals that truly get the scale to move. By completing your food journal, you can highlight and recognize all the food choices and behaviors you did well with during the week. That could be better snack options, skipping fewer meals, or eating veggies with dinner nightly. Use your food journal to celebrate your victories during the week. Bonus- You can always look back on past food journals to revisit strategies that worked for you previously, what a great resource!

Information, Information, Information!

Did we say information? That is all a food journal is…DATA! Often, we initially see a food journal as a way to see what went ‘wrong.’ You may not want to fill out a food journal when you are not on the plan, “What’s the point of tracking if I am not following the plan?” The point is to gather information! Sometimes the most important time to food journal is when you are struggling. Your dietitian can look it over and brainstorm a plan with you. Has your week been stressful? Lack of sleep? No grocery shopping this week? Friends visiting and eating out more? A food journal with indulgences is still just information, not positive or negative, but always something we can learn from to come up with strategies and suggestions to help.

Evidence for Some Serious Detective Work

As we mentioned above, your food journal is incredibly helpful when we are investigating the mysteries of your metabolism and what works for you. The food journal provides evidence about your eating schedule, routine, food preferences, social eating, and even your hunger and cravings. Who knew so much could come out of such a simple action! Without this, it can be difficult to get specific about what we need to adjust to be successful.


With all the options out there- paper, journals, pictures, phone apps, emails…the possibilities are endless. You can find a tracking method that works best for you! So, wave that food journal with pride! Your health goals (and your dietitian) will thank you!!


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