Raisin Your Nutrition

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Blog 2-Food Log

Unlock the Power of Food – Get to Know YOU!

June 11, 2015 by

I love this quote: “Knowledge is Power.” When it comes to understanding eating patterns it couldn’t be more true.

Everyone who has kept a personal journal knows that writing can be a therapeutic process that helps integrate seemingly unconnected life events. Some believe the process works because the physical act of writing (using your hand-eye coordination) occupies your left brain, leaving your right brain free to access emotions and to create new insights.

Over the next few weeks we are going to explore the connections between what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, where you eat, and how you feel before and after eating. It’s all linked together in very interesting ways.

I’ve created a food journal template for you to download to make recording fun and easy. You’ll see that the journal has been designed so that each piece of tracking information – date, time, food or drink item eaten, quantity consumed, where you’re eating, and how you are feeling when eating has its own column.

Although it’s tempting to wait until the end of the day to record everything, it’s not the most accurate. It’s really best to record everything while you eat or shortly thereafter. This way, you’re less likely to forget items like that extra serving of pasta or chocolate chip cookies that a coworker brought to share at work. You can always reflect back on your day by looking over your journal at the end of the day to make sure that nothing was missed.

So let’s walk through the process:

 

Column 1 – TIME

For this column, jot down a specific time – like 8 am or 3:30 pm instead of just “breakfast” or “afternoon snack.” This information will be important when we explore patterns of eating.

 

Column 2 – LIST ALL FOOD & FLUIDS

Here’s where you want to record everything that you eat and drink. Be very specific. Deconstruct your meal by listing individual ingredients. For example, instead of writing down “turkey sandwich,” write out the type of bread (whole wheat), turkey (low salt deli) and condiments (pickles, tomatoes) as separate entries. Write down your drinks as well – this includes water!  And don’t forget to record snacks!

It would look something like this –

TIME FOOD/FLUID ITEMS AMOUNT WHERE FEELINGS
8 am Egg, fried in butter 1 home Tired, sad
Coffee 8 oz
Non-dairy creamer 2 T
Whole wheat toast 1 slice
Almond butter 1 T
Water 8 oz

Column 3 – AMOUNT OF FOOD AND FLUIDS

Just as important as WHAT you’re eating is HOW MUCH you’re eating. There are a couple of ways to do this – it depends on how precise you want to be. If you’re interested in how many calories you consume, accurate quantities are extremely important. In this case, a food scale can become your new best friend (J) for correct portions. This way, you can weigh out ingredients and record the exact amount you eat. Tedious yes, but it will give you the best information when it comes to evaluating your intake.

Another method is to “guesstimate” quantities of a food by using a visual reference to compare to standard portion sizes. I’ve chosen one of the most popular – the hand guide to portion control! This is especially helpful for when you’re eating out. Here’s how it works:

Serving Size

  1. Use your two open hands to guide you in selecting a healthy serving of vegetables.
  2. Use your fist to select a healthy portion of grain products. Your serving of rice or pasta should be equal to your fist.
  3. Use your palm to measure a healthy serving of meat and alternatives. Your chicken breast or lean steak should be the size of your palm.
  4. Include a fist-size serving of fruit with or between your meals.
  5. Use a thumb tip-size serving of fat.

Column 4 – WHERE

Where do you have most of your meals? Record where you eat – this provides helpful clues about your food habits. Some people may eat more while dining out, and others tend to eat more at home. Did you eat at a restaurant? In front of the TV? At your desk? In your car? Stay tuned to take a closer look at this area.

Column 5 – FEELINGS

Mood matters! We don’t just eat because we’re hungry. Our emotions can have a significant impact on what we choose to eat, when we eat, and how much we eat. Use the “feelings” column to write down emotions like tired, anxious, happy, sad, or guilty. For example, you might write “tired, no energy” for an afternoon snack of coffee and an oatmeal raisin cookie. Understanding key emotion-to-food connections will help you appreciate the reasons why you make certain choices.

Now that you have the tools for keeping an effective food journal, start writing! It’s time to learn more ABOUT YOU!

Printable Sun-Maid Food Diary

  1. Love this! Doing beachbody & need knowledge on food!

    • Sun-Maid says:

      Thanks Susan! Please let us know how your new workout and eating program goes!

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "Unlock the Power of Food – Get to Know YOU!"
  1. […] help you to make more informed nutrition decisions. I want you to refer back to your food journal (Unlock the Power of Food — Get to Know You). Think about how each of the following factors may influence your food intake. The list is not […]

  2. […] a look at your food log (Unlock the Power of Food — Get to Know You). How many servings of refined grains are you eating every day? Refined grains include foods like […]

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About The Author
SUZANNE NELSON, ScD, RDN
Suzanne Nelson

Dr. Nelson recently joined the staff of Bryn Athyn College in Pennsylvania as a nutrition and wellness advisor and sports nutritionist. Previously, she was the Director of Sports Performance Nutrition in the athletic department at the University of California, Berkeley. While in California, she was the team nutritionist for the San Francisco 49ers and provided nutrition consultation to the San Francisco Giants and Golden State Warriors. In addition, Dr. Nelson has advised elite amateur athletes at the national, world, and Olympic level. She is a nationally known speaker in sports nutrition and is the author/editor of several books and numerous scientific journal articles. Dr. Nelson is the Nutrition and Health Advisor for Sun-Maid.

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