What is a Food Journal, and why would I need to keep one? Glenview Personal Trainer Andrew Bora explains, in this short article.
Earlier, we talked about the importance of having a good diet if you’re trying to lose weight or improve your overall health. It’s hard to keep track of what you’re eating “on the fly”, especially if you’re not used to doing that. You’ll probably need to adopt a more proactive approach, planning and preparing your meals in advance so they fulfill your dietary needs. But first, you’ll want to take an inventory of what you’re currently eating and assess its nutritional value.
The best way to do this is by keeping a food journal. There are several ways to go about it. You can take notes on scraps of paper, write everything down in a journal, or keep everything online in a spreadsheet. Any of these approaches will work; it’s just a matter of what you feel most comfortable with. However, there are some very nice tools available (for free!) if you want to do it online.
One of the most comprehensive tools we’ve seen at Bora Fitness is the MyPlate application at Livestrong.com. You do have to sign up for a free account to use it. They also offer a more advanced version that you have to pay for, but the basic one works quite well. It allows you to enter the amount of carbohydrates, fat, protein, and calories for each food item manually (you will need to get this information from the food label on the product, or look it up online). Alternatively, you can simply type in the name of the item and MyPlate will automatically search for it and give you the composition.
When you’re done entering information, you can save your food journal online or export the output as a spreadsheet that you can download and save. If you don’t own a spreadsheet program, you can sign up for a free Google Docs or Office Live SkyDrive account (from Microsoft) that will allow you to save, view, and edit your food journal. You really don’t need anything else, but if you want a stand-alone program, you can get OpenOffice for free.
Yes, it takes a little extra time to journal your food consumption, but this is the only way you and your personal trainer will be able to get an accurate assessment of what you’re eating. As they say, knowledge is power; this will be tremendously helpful in managing your diet.
For specific recommendations on what to eat, make an appointment with Andrew Bora for a personal fitness assessment.