Thursday Things + Food Journaling 101

Hello there! And happy October / Fall Festival week for those of you in southern Indiana! I have not actually made it down to the festival yet, but there ARE still 2 days left—who knows what could happen? The world is my oyster!

The last few weeks have been jam-packed with a ton of stuff, and on top of that I have been feeling run down.

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First and foremost, the boyfriend and I went to Notre Dame 2 weeks ago for their game against Duke. Sadly, the game was kind of a bummer, but we still had an amazing time. The campus is incredible and it was so fun to be part of a football weekend.

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The weather was absolutely perfect and we had a really great time hanging out with our friends and spending time on campus.

In addition to our trip, life has just been keeping me busy. I was trying to think of specific reasons why I’ve felt so blah, but there’s not one thing in particular. There are just some seasons of life that are like that—between work and friends and relationships and running errands, it just goes by super quickly.

Health-wise, I’ve been feeling a little off for the past few weeks. I have issues with my neck and shoulders, so a family weekend at Holiday World (riding the Scrambler in particular) left me in a lot of pain. Which turned into a migraine after an appointment at the chiropractor. I’ve also been experimenting a little with my diet, which leads me into what I want to write about today: food journaling, or why I think we should all be doing it.

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I have been a user of MyFitnessPal for years. I actually did a project involving it for one of my classes in school.

MyFitnessPal is both a website and an app you can download to track your food and beverage intake, physical activity, and progress toward goals. It can also sync with other apps you may be using, like Fitbit or MapMyRun.

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You can also connect with other users for accountability or motivation (don’t worry—you can choose what information is viewable to others, like weight, food diary, etc.).

So MyFitnessPal is one of the most popular food diary apps because it’s really user-friendly and has a really really large database of food and drink. Seriously, I can find almost anything I’ve eaten, including particular brands and specific entrees at restaurants. It also saves recent entries and recipes, so it’s very easy to track your food if you, like me, tend to eat a lot of the same things.

OK, this is probably starting to sound like this post was brought to you by MyFitnessPal, but it’s NOT. I just think it’s a really great app and a useful service. I personally use it to track my food and exercise, but I specifically love being able to see nutrient and macronutrient intake. If I’m feeling really hungry one day, I can look back and see I’ve eaten 70% carbs and very little protein—and this helps me know what changes I should be making in my diet in order to feel my best.

The other form of food journaling that I find useful is a good old fashioned notebook and pen.

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I started keeping a notebook and pen on my nightstand a few months ago, mainly to see if my diet affected anxiety and stress in my life. You can make this as detailed or as brief as you’d like, but generally I include:

  • What I had for each meal plus any snacks (again, this doesn’t have to be in-depth—simply writing oatmeal and coffee for breakfast will suffice)
  • How much water I drank that day
  • What my energy levels throughout the day were like
  • What kind of activity I did (how many steps I got, if I worked out, foam rolling, etc.)
  • What my moods were like
  • Any other major differences (was I exhausted all day, bloated, bad headache, etc.)

It can be tedious at first, but like most new habits, once it becomes part of your routine, it feels natural. And I can’t stress enough how helpful this has been. Like that really bad stomachache I had a few weeks ago? I can look through my notebook and find that I had a similar one 2 months ago, and both those days I had eaten X. Or if I’m feeling really good one day, I can see that I drank a ton of water and had 3 meals with a good amount of protein in them.

If you are trying to meet a weight-loss goal, have been having digestive issues, or just haven’t been feeling like yourself lately, I encourage you to give food journaling a shot. Even if you don’t include every single thing you ate every day (which I usually don’t), it is so helpful for both accountability and information. Knowledge is power, people! Especially in regards to your health.

I hope this post was helpful! If you have questions about food journaling or would like me to explain anything I forgot, please let me know. I hope you all have a wonderful week and a sweet weekend. 🙂