Discover one of the most effective weight loss strategies!
Studies show that people who keep food journals lose more weight and are more successful at keeping it off for the long-term than those who don’t. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that people who kept a food journal lost twice the weight of those who relied on dieting and exercising alone.
That's why I'm very excited to offer you FREE food journal templates (food diaries, food logs, food trackers...whatever name tickles your fancy) that you can download and use right away! I've created weekly and daily journals for both print use (if you'd rather fill it out by hand) and computer use (if you'd rather type it in).
Free Printable Food Journals (.pdf)
Free Spreadsheet Food Journals (.xls)
What makes the ETH Food Journal so effective?
Most food journals focus on weight, calories and grams of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. While there is certainly some benefit to including this kind of information, experience has taught me that this data isn't particularly useful when addressing issues of long-term weight loss and emotional eating.
The ETH Food Journal focuses not just on the food, but also on your feelings and habits that have an impact on the hows, whys, and whats of your eating. The journal is designed in such a way that you'll be able to identify certain patterns that might have an impact on your food choices and eating behaviors.
- Which foods make you feel energized afterward and which make you feel sluggish?
- Which foods do you typically reach for when you're stressed?
- What effect do certain foods have on your quality of sleep?
- How often do you eat when you're not hungry?
- Do you tend to eat faster or slower when eating with others compared to eating by yourself?
The vast majority of the food journals out there don't address ANY of these questions. Much too often we are disconnected by our eating experiences and from our bodies. Being more conscious of our behaviors and the driving forces behind them is a crucial part of the weight loss journey, so if you are unsure about the answers to any of the above questions, the ETH Food Journal is for you!
Personally, I’ve been using a food journal for over 10 years now and have found it to be one of the most effective strategies in understanding why I eat what I eat and how certain foods impact my mood, weight, complexion and everything in between. With both scientific evidence and personal experience backing it up, I recommend food journals to all of my clients if they want to get results.
How do I fill it out?
Click on the image below to view a sample food journal entry:
If you're feeling overwhelmed, I assure you that you have nothing to worry about and keeping a food journal is a lot easier than you might think. Here's what you do:
After you eat, fill out the column that corresponds to which meal or snack you're consuming. You'll be recording:
- Where: Were you eating at home? At work? At school? In the car?
- With Whom: Who were you eating with? If you were by yourself, feel free to write "Self" or "No one"
- Feeling Before: How were you feeling before you ate? Sleepy? Angry? Excited? Relaxed? Stressed?
- Hunger (1-10): On a scale of 1-10 (1 = not hungry at all, 10 = starving, so hungry you can't think straight), rate how hungry you were
- Speed (1-10): On a scale of 1-10 (1 = slowly and mindfully, 10= you inhaled your food so fast you can't even remember eating it), rate how fast or slow you ate/drank.
- Feeling After: How did you feel afterward? You can indicate an emotion (e.g. guilty, proud, upset, satisfied) or a physical symptom (e.g. full, sick, energized, tired)
There is also space for you to indicate what time you woke up and what time you went to sleep, as well as what you did that day to exercise.
The "Notes" section is a great place for you to give an overview of the day or share your thoughts, concerns, successes, feelings, cravings, symptoms, energy level, etc. This is space for you to include whatever you want that you think might be helpful for you as you review your journal and identify your patterns.
To enter in your data in one of the food journals downloaded as an Excel file (.xls), simply click on the cell and start typing.
How do I get the most out of my journal for maximum results?
- BE SPECIFIC. This is beneficial for two reasons: (1) Being specific helps you better recognize how much you're eating. Just writing down "pasta" isn't as effective as specifying the amount. (There's a big difference between 1/2 cup of pasta and 3 cups of pasta!) If you're not sure how much you're eating, measure your food to help you gauge accurate portion sizes. (2) Being specific enables you to better assess your progress. For instance, on the first day of your journal entry, you might have consumed 5 diet sodas throughout the day. Two weeks later, you're down to 1 diet soda per day. If you didn't specify the number of diet sodas in your journal, you wouldn't have been able to recognize how much you improved over time.
- PLAY DETECTIVE. Are you dreading filling out a food log every day? Instead of viewing it as a chore, have fun with it! Think of it as an exercise in getting to know yourself better and figuring out the driving forces that motivate you to do what you do and eat what you eat. For instance, if you frequently suffer from chronic health issues, think of your journal as the gateway to figuring out the causes. You might notice that you only experience digestive upset after meals that contain dairy or you only get headaches on the days you don't drink enough water. A food journal is one of the best tools to help you identify the root causes of what you're struggling with, from physical symptoms, to cravings, to lack of motivation and more.
- MAKE IT YOUR OWN. The sample above is just that: a sample. Feel free to put your own spin on it, whether you want to color code it, abbreviate certain words or anything else that resonates with you. This is your journal, so write in a way you understand and that makes the journaling experience enjoyable.
If you have any questions or would like to share your feedback with me, I'd love to hear from you!