Keeping a Food Journal can Reveal your True Eating Habits – Take the Test

You’ve undoubtedly heard of them…

Food journals.

They’re these little notebooks you carry around with you and write down exactly what and when you eat throughout the day.

Every little detail.

Now they even have online versions and smartphone applications that are designed to make the process a little more simplified (some even allow you to upload pictures of the foods you eat).

But what’s the point? What’s the purpose of it all?

Well, here’s something you probably didn’t know…

There was a study done back in 2008 that showed some interesting findings.

People that keep a food journal are likely to double their weight loss results.

That’s right.

Keeping this little journal and recording the foods you eat can have a dramatic impact on your weight loss efforts.

So why does it happen?

It’s simple really. It all comes down to awareness.

The truth is, the majority of us think we are eating healthy. We think we are consuming quality foods and keeping our overall calorie consumption low.

But the truth is there are a lot of calories we forget about. The random cookie here. The latte at lunch. The handful of almonds in the morning. These are all simple things that we don’t consider but have a huge cumulative effect.

So I want you to do a little experiment for me.

A little test.

For three consecutive days (Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday, Monday, Tuesday work best), I want you to keep a food journal.

I want you to record everything you consume.

Everything.

Anything you eat or drink – I want you to write down.

Grab yourself a little notebook or use your smartphone text app to keep track of this. There’s no need to be super detailed here. Just keep it simple. For each of the three days, include the following things in your journal:

What you consumed for that day.

  • Example 1: Almonds
  • Example 2: Starbucks Coffee

How much of it you consumed (rough estimate).

  • Example 1: 10-15 Almonds
  • Example 2: Large cup

What time you consumed it at.

  • Example: 2:30 pm

That’s it.

I want you to do this for three consecutive days without holding anything back. I want you to eat and drink like you would normally eat and drink during those days because that’s a true measure of your eating habits. Also, don’t look through your journal to see what you ate the day before. Just use it for recording. We’ll save the examining for later.

Remember, there’s no point of cheating yourself.

This test is for you to learn something about yourself.

Now, once you finish the experiment and you have information for all three days (2 days and 1 weekday), I want you to sit down and take a good long look at your findings.

Does it look like you thought it would? Are there any things that surprise you? That make you shake your head?

Let’s take a quick look at the numbers…

To figure out your overall caloric consumption for each of the days, you can use a cool little online tool called NutritionData. It’s free and it will tell you everything there is to know about your food. You can learn how to use it here. [Note: if you need help with this part, please feel free to contact me. I’d be glad to help you out.]

What most people come to realize is that their overall caloric consumption is much higher than they originally thought. Those side drinks and snacks really add up.

But there is a greater purpose to this test.

As you’ll soon notice, just the process of writing down the foods you eat will bring awareness to what it is you are putting in your mouth. You’ll become more cautious of the foods you are consuming and eventually this will help you make better decisions.

And at the end of the day, that is all that matters.

If you want to learn something about yourself and your habits, try this little experiment. Then come back and let me know how it went. I’m curious to see your findings!

14 thoughts on “Keeping a Food Journal can Reveal your True Eating Habits – Take the Test”

  1. I’ve started keeping a food journal starting last month. I can’t keep track everything though as I don’t write them down real-time (a bit forgetful). But I’ll resolve to improving!

    1. Hey Lis. Keeping a food journal for an entire month is a daunting task. Maybe try shortening your test period down. Like I mentioned, a minimum of three days is sufficient to get a good understanding of the foods you are consuming. The shorter the period is, the more likely you are to write everything down (that’s critical). Good luck!

  2. I’ve been doing this for a little over a week now (as part of a different experiment) and it’s actually quite a good thing to do … at least for a while.

    I’ve never counted calories before but I am keeping track of everything I eat as well as the approximate calorie/fat/protein/carb portions I’m eating. Very revealing!

    I also found a cool free site to help keep track: http://www.fitday.com. Have you heard of or used this one? Just curious how it compares to the one you mentioned.

    1. Hey Kevin, it seems like the more you track, the more you learn about your own eating habits. And that’s what it’s all about.

      What is the other experiment you’re doing?

      And I have heard of fitday.com. They have a ton of these out there and they can be very useful (if used for the right reasons).

  3. It’s been awhile since I kept a log of my eating habits. I can last for about a week before I crack. But it’s surprising how much you can learn from your eating habits. Today, for example, I was eating a bowl of greek yogurt with blackberries. I had my serving, but had the urge to have a few more berries, which I savored.

    I know having a few more berries is not like sneaking off with an extra cookie, but a journal would reveal this and more. This definitely a great tactic for anyone starting a cut cycle.

    -Mitchell

    1. Hey Mitchell, that’s a great example of exactly how a journal can reveal these little habits that we have.

      It doesn’t necessarily have to be used for a cutting cycle. Sometimes it’s great to just learn to be aware of your eating habits so you can learn to make the right decisions in the future.

      And I usually only do this (but completely) for a few days. If you can do this for a week that’s pretty solid!

  4. Too true. Keeping a food journal can really help you understand what you THINK you are eating vs. what you actually ARE.

    I’m a big fan of this method in comparison to calorie counting. Using a qualitative rather than a quantitative method really helps you get the big picture.

  5. I love this idea. I did it once, and it shocked me just how bad I was eating. It is all about awareness. This is a great tool for anybody regardless of their progress.

    Cheers,
    Jordan

  6. Ok so I have to take a daily medication that calls for a 400 calorie meal at breakfast. What would you recommend? And when you say to eat, why no fruit?

    1. Try a smoothie in the morning. It’s easy to up the caloric content by adding healthy fats like avocados and nuts. And you can still have your high intake of protein which I always recommend for breakfasts.

      Fruit (at least that with a high glycemic index – sugary) – i.e. fructose – converts to fat more efficiently than almost all other carbohydrates, which triggers fat accumulation. Stick with the low GI fruits.

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