National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Food Journals and Other Tools
It may seem nearly impossible to keep track of your food intake. But, did you know that the average person can only remember half of what they eat each day? Keeping a food journal will help you be accountable for all the food you consume. Studies show that individuals who keep a food journal lose more weight and keep it off compared to those who do not journal. Be sure to add up your calories and compare them to the estimated calories you burn each day, which you can find out from your health care provider, a registered dietician or from an online calculator like the one at NutritionData.com.
Keep a notepad handy and write down what you are eating as the day goes on. Make sure to include your intake of all food and beverages and the portion size or calories of each, time of day you ate and the emotions or feelings at the time. Keeping a food journal will help you uncover patterns relating to what, when, why and how much you eat and aid you in deciding what changes to make. It is also a surefire way to determine whether you are deducting the correct amount of calories from your diet if you are trying to lose weight.
As you move toward healthier eating as a plan for your life, don't deprive yourself of your favorite foods. If you are feeling deprived, you are likely to be more irritable and less likely to maintain your plan. Eating familiar or comfort foods often makes us feel safe, cared-for and happy. One tip is to remember to eat these foods in moderation and with mindfulness so that you get the most from what you are eating in all ways.
Instead of eating an entire candy bar, get a small piece of rich chocolate and savor the treat. Get low-calorie versions of your favorite comfort foods and limit your quantity. Eat a small cup of ice cream instead of a bowl. Be careful of temptation or bingeing; learn your own habits and decide for yourself if you need to completely avoid certain foods or keep them out of your home.
Many people find success by joining up with others who have similar goals. Find a healthful eating partner or two, or go online to seek and secure support for you and your efforts. The following Web sites have online support groups relating to healthy, smart eating: