A blank journal sitting on a table beside a gold pen and a mug of hot tea.

Food Journaling: The “Write” Way to Success

By Suzanne Caithamer, RD

At Covenant Natural Health Care, nutrition is at the core of our program. What you eat is going to lead you to success and restored health or keep you stuck where you don’t want to be. The best way we can fine-tune your program and help you achieve optimum health faster is for you to keep a food journal of what, when, and how much you eat and drink. Supplements can only get you so far; what you are feeding your body is going to be more than half of your success.

By showing us what you eat and drink on a daily basis, we get a better idea of your lifestyle. We work with you to take small steps towards better food choices. It’s not always easy to change what you eat, but being honest with us (and yourself) will give us a clearer picture of where to focus our efforts on your health. We will never make you feel bad or judge what you are eating.

Here are some tips for a complete food log journal:

  1. Be specific. Don’t just write “cereal.” For example, write “gluten-free Organic Nature’s Path Sunrise Cinnamon Cereal.”
  2. Write EVERYTHING down. Keep your food log, or at least paper and a pen, with you at all times. Don’t rely on your memory because you will likely forget things. Write as you go throughout the day after each meal and snack.
  3. Be totally honest. It does not do you, nor us, any favors to avoid writing things down because you do not want your practitioner to see. There is power in accountability and the only way we can really help is to see what you are actually putting in your body. We are here to help you every step of the way, but we can’t help you if we don’t know what you are eating at home.
  4. Include your water intake. We want you to drink when you are thirsty and make sure you are drinking enough water. You may find that if you feel like you need food, you may really only need water.

As you write down your food intake every day, you may notice patterns in your habits that can be adjusted for better success. For example, you might notice that every day when you get home from work, you eat quite a bit as you prepare dinner. You mindlessly taste things as you go, and when you sit down for dinner you are not hungry, but you eat dinner anyway. Or perhaps you didn’t realize how often you run through the Starbucks drive-through. Or that as you clean up the kitchen after dinner, you eat the food off your children’s plates that they didn’t finish.

Besides writing a food journal where you log your food intake, you may want to consider a separate journal to record your thoughts and feelings as you work through your program. This can be just for you — you do not have to bring it in for us to see. You may find that writing about your progress, your revelations, your hangups, etc. brings insight into your life that you never realized. Many people overeat or eat “comfort food” because of how they are feeling. Working through your feelings on paper can help you have additional success. Write honestly and fully. Studies show that journaling can reduce stress and help you stay focused. Writing helps you process things that happen in your life.

Here are some prompts to get you started:

  • What are my health goals? Why am I starting this program?
  • What am I feeling today? How was today?
  • Have things improved over the last week (or month)? Am I closer to my goals?
  • Where am I having trouble, and why do I think this is happening?
  • What event or thing happened that prompted me to want to eat things that I know I shouldn’t?

We cannot emphasize enough that what you eat is the key to optimal health. Our goal is for you to become well-nourished through quality food and whole-food supplements. Most food in the United States is highly processed and provides very little nourishment. Help us to steer you on the path to better health and quality of life by providing us with the information we need by bringing your complete food journal to EVERY appointment.

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