Nutrition therapy is about making changes that improve your relationship with food and your health. Food journals are one of a variety of therapeutic tools used during treatment for an eating disorder. Food journals or logs are also referred to as food records which can take many forms. Some people prefer to write things down free form in a personal notebook while others do best filling out the prepared charts provided by their nutritionist. Many others have gone tech-friendly by using an app on their phone to track info and share it. Regardless of the form it takes, a food journal does much more than track your food. A helpful format for food journals that include the time of day, a description of the snack or meal, the food and beverage intake, setting of the meal and, most importantly, the individual’s thoughts and feelings before, during and after eating.
Completing food logs and reviewing them can be a pretty powerful part of the recovery process. Not surprisingly, and perhaps because they can be so powerful, many individuals also experience some resistance to using them. If you’ve ever been encouraged to complete food logs as part of your treatment for an eating disorder but had trouble starting or committing to the process, we thought it might help to know why a nutritionist would recommend doing them and the specific ways in which they can assist in the recovery process.
Keeping a food journal provide insights into your bigger picture and provide a way to monitor progress. The journal communicates specific details from each meal, but they also show trends and patterns over the course of the week related to meal times, location, situational triggers and thoughts. Small weekly goals that create momentum towards overarching goals and bigger changes over time takes the pressure off of you to recall from memory the details of your food and symptom use from the past month.
Returning to a normal and healthy relationship with food means appropriately responding to hunger and fullness signals. It’s impossible to do that when your signals are broken from chaotic or disordered eating. The best thing to get your digestive system and metabolism back on track is structured eating which means adequate amounts of food with adequate frequency. Food journals aid in structured eating accountability, and structured eating over time sharpens your signals and helps you get to a place of intuitive eating.