Food Journals – Part 2

Last time in “Food Journaling – Part 1”, we discussed the importance of balancing our nutritional checkbook.  And, left off with a challenge to write down everything you consumed to gain an accurate reflection of your intake.  I’ve been curious as to how you fared in the challenge!   If you want, please leave some of your observations in the comments section!   Let’s start off today by discussing the methods used to journal food. 

-Some choose to use a pen/paper method to write down the brand name and amount eaten as the day progresses and come back later to do the figures.  The problem arises when researching each item, writing the nutritional values into the blank pages of your journal, and growing weary FAST!  It’s a cumbersome task to search foods in a book that gives the proper values, and saving your food labels throughout the day can become messy.  If you desire to use this method, visit your local bookstore to find a food journal that best fits your needs (keep in mind that you need space to write in). 

-Others choose to utilize online sites such as LiveStrong or Fitday.  While these are great programs, unless you have a blackberry or access to the internet 24/7, it’s easy to forget the foods that you’ve consumed by the time you make your way to a computer.  (After I had gone to bed at night, I would remember foods that I had not recorded!)  However, a few benefits of these types is that the database of foods is endless, and it’s not necessary to have a math degree to be able to calculate the totals! 

I’m of the thought that both the pen/paper and online programs are helpful when used together.  Throughout the day, jot down your food choices and amounts consumed, while entering them all once you can access the internet.

Next, I want to address accuracy of the food journal.  I remember the beginning of my food journaling experience.  The nutritionist made it clear how important it was to record EVERY SINGLE THING I put into my mouth.  How hard could that be?  I ate 3 meals a day, and a few snacks in between.  Surely it wouldn’t take me long to enter three items per meal, one item per snack. 

In my mind, the food choice entries looked like this:

Breakfast:  eggs, bacon, toast, milk

Lunch:  meat, vegetables

Supper:  meat, potatoes, vegetable, bread

Nightly snack:  2 scoops of ice cream

In this equation, I not only stayed within my daily budget of calories, I had quite a savings nestegg stored up for another day!

However, upon closer examination, it looked more like this:

Breakfast:  2 eggs with salsa, cheese, sour cream, sausage inside a tortilla, 3 slices of bacon, piece of cheese, toast (2 pieces white bread) with lots of butter AND jelly, glass of full fat milk

Mid Morning snack:  Bavarian Cream donut

Lunch:   Lasagna, brocolli, garlic bread, carbonated beverage, warm pineapple cake

Afternoon snack:  daily visit to the work vending machine for 1, perhaps 2 candy bars for a “pick me up”

Drive home from work:  bag of chips to avoid a crash

Supper:  Chicken breast smothered with cheese, barbecue sauce, onions, bacon on a bun, baked potato with sour cream, butter, chives, sour cream, and cheese, broccoli casserole, 3 rolls with honey butter, 2 glasses of sweet tea

Nightly snack:  ice cream with hot fudge, banana, whip cream, or a hot fudge cake from the local restaurant and if I watched a movie, a bag of buttered popcorn with yet another soda

It doesn’t take an accountant to analyze this data and tell me that I had overdrawn on my budget!  I was operating in the red!   Yet, starting out, I really believed that the numbers on my food journal would be low.  (even though I was 5’4, weighed 251 lbs and considered morbidly obese by a medical physician). 

Perhaps at the beginning of the challenge, you thought “Oh this will be a breeze.  I’m a routine eater, I eat the same thing every day. I bet I am within my budget!”  But, the results in black and white (if you were honest) said something completely different!  It is important to continue food journaling so that our weight loss efforts will not be sabotaged by poor choices or lack of knowledge.  Next time, we will discuss how your food journal results have affected your food choices and amounts consumed.

Until next time,

Melinda Richardson
Visit my website: Recovering Fatty 

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One Response for Food Journals – Part 2

  1. Karin Stoutenburg


    August 29, 2009 3:25 pm

    Thanks for your posts about food journals. I find that you are absolutely correct. At times I have used a food journal and other times I haven’t. During those times that I have NOT used a journal, my eating has been poor at best.

    I currently journal all of my foods and this keeps me accountable. I keep a small notebook that fits in my bag and because I always have it with me, I am always aware of what I have consumed for the day. I don’t typically track calories or nutritional content, but rather the amounts of particular foods that I eat. For example, here is a typical entry for my day:

    7:00 am – 1 cup plain oatmeal, 3 poached egg whites, 1 cup black coffee, .5L water
    9:00 am – 1 med. apple, .5L water
    11:00 am – 5 oz. turkey breast, 1/3 med. sweet potato, 1 1/2 cups brussel sprouts, .5L water
    2:00 pm – 5 oz. steamed bison cubes, 1/3 med. sweet potato, 1 1/2 cups green beans, .5L water
    4:00 pm – 1/3 med sweet potato, .5L water
    6:00 pm – 2 cups mixed greens, 1 tsp of lime juice, 2 poached egg whites .5L water

    I eat 5 to 6 times per day so there is some planning and preparation that has to go into my meals for the week. I don’t fry, I don’t add butter, I don’t use mayo or other salad dressings. For example, I dress my salad greens in a tsp. of fresh lime juice. I keep all foods “clean” and therefore, don’t feel like I have to worry about calories.

    I have found that if I stick to clean eating and JOURNALING everything that goes into my mouth, I stay on the right track.

    Thanks again for your post about this important topic and for confirming what I have been doing!