Food Journals

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NUTRITION HOTLINE: Food Journals

Q: Why do nutritionists recommend food journals for recovery?

A: Many dietitians ask their clients to keep food, hunger, and emotions journals. They may provide a form to use, or they may ask you to keep a record in a notebook or on the computer. This journal includes a section to write down foods and the time they were consumed, a scale to rate hunger before and fullness after each meal and snack, and a section to write down mood, thoughts, and feelings while you were eating. Some clients find the hunger and emotions part to be overwhelming and may elect to start with just the food record.

Keeping a food journal can be anxiety producing for many people. If a person was judged or criticized as a child or teen, writing down what he or she eats may bring back bad memories. Most dietitians are aware of this and will be sensitive to this issue. I frequently start with having my clients keep a food record for their use only, so that they may gradually get used to recording their meals and having it be a neutral or positive experience.

Keeping these records helps to increase awareness of eating and to identify disconnected eating triggers. Disconnected eating happens when your eating is not based on hunger or fullness signals, or when you are not paying attention to eating. Examples of disconnected eating include eating in front of the television, eating while driving, or eating when sad or angry. Many people with eating disorders habitually disconnect while eating, and food journals can be a useful tool in recovery. Also studies have found that writing down what you eat is an effective tool in achieving a healthy weight.

By Diane Keddy, MS, RD
Reprinted with permission from Eating Disorders Recovery Today
Spring 2006 Volume 4, Number 2
©2006 Gürze Books

About the Author

Diane Keddy, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian with a private practice in Newport Beach, CA.

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