Weight loss is on the minds of many of us these days, with 2021 finally (finally!) kicking into gear. So it's no surprise that food journal purchases explode this time of year, when good intentions for weight loss are fresh and new.
And while a food journal is a great accompaniment to any healthy weight-loss journey, losing those few extra holiday pounds doesn't have to be the only reason to keep one. Here are a few unexpected benefits to writing it all down.
It can connect the mind and body
I've kept a food journal on and off for years, and while most of the "on" time does have to do with losing weight—I tend to use it wayyy more when my jeans start getting tighter—it's more about the mindfulness that comes with it. When I write down exactly what I eat and drink on any given day, I become instantly aware of why those pesky pounds aren't coming off and why I may feel a bit more tired or sluggish (I ate how much bread yesterday?). This mindfulness, while extremely jarring at times, snaps me right back into reality. It reminds me why it's important to pay close attention to what we eat. It's not so we can deprive ourselves of delicious bread and fantastic red wine. It's so we can appreciate that delicious bread and wine in smaller amounts, all while being mindful of it.
This mindfulness can also highlight certain eating habits or emotional attachments to certain foods. This eye-opening experience can connect the dots between a bad mood and, say, a higher chocolate ice cream intake—or a good mood and a day filled with fruits and vegetables. It's that mind-body connection—or more that connection between the brain and the gut—that makes all the difference.
It can stop food allergies in their tracks
By keeping track of food intake, it's also possible to pinpoint potential allergies. These don't always come in the form of skin irritation, either. Certain foods can trigger an array of responses in the body, from gas and bloat to a headache or fever. When things feel off and you can't tie it to anything else, a food journal can offer some answers.
Finding the ideal food journal
Is losing pounds your goal? Find a journal that includes a weight-tracker column. Trying to figure out a food allergy? Search online to find scores of free printable ones. Don't feel like writing it all down? Use one of these food tracker apps.
As for me? I've gotten a bit nostalgic lately, so I bought a custom food journal from Etsy. It's an upgrade from my plain lined notebook, but any old notebook will do the trick. Just the idea of holding yourself accountable is often all you may need to stay on track and stick to your goals. It's the mindfulness that counts the most.