How to get more out of tracking what you eat:
- Know your input through and through – include the ingredients of what you eat (all of them)
- Save time by writing down the brand and type of product you’re consuming
- Know your ouput – include a measurable output for your health goal (i.e. weight, blood sugar, stool consistency, blood pressure, skin inflammation)
Advanced? It basically means taking the data a step further to getting some insight out of it. Learn from it. If you’re just starting out, I recommend you check out getting started with food journaling article.
One essential thing that takes your food journaling a step further is to know what you’re eating. What?
What I mean is to write down exactly what’s in your food – all the ingredients. For example, if I eat some potato crisps then I want to know what makes that up. In my case that would be potatoes, salt and non-hydrogenated sunflower oil.
Won’t that take time?
A way around that is to jot down the brand name and type of product (i.e. Kettle Chips Sea Salt) you ate so that if you need to reference the ingredients, you can later.
Knowing what’s in your food will help you with your health goals – whether that’s weight loss or dealing with intolerances and other gut health issues.
Food, today, has a lot of “hidden” stuff in terms of sugars, modified starches and concentrated natural products like carrageanean that the body hasn’t quite gotten used to digesting since its invention.
Understanding what’s going into your body and impacting your hormones and your digestion can help you see something that you might not be yet aware of.
The second part of advanced journaling is to measure an output. In terms of weight loss, measuring your weight is one way to do this. Your ultimate outcome is to weigh a certain number and you can consistently and easily measure this.
When it comes to other health goals, especially gut health, measuring the output from your body (e.g. poop) is one of the best ways to learn more about your digestion. Keeping track of when and how often and its consistency (see Bristol Stool Scale) provides so much information and helps to empower discussions with medical health practitioners.
Other outputs include skin inflammation. I keep this in my food journal and use a customised scale of 0-5 to describe how bad my skin rash is each day.
This can be for acne, dry heels, hemorrhoids, yeast infections, itchy eyes, etc. Most chronic issues are measurable even at home. For blood sugar and blood pressure, there’s an at home measuring kit.
Including the output each day in your food journal will help you see relationships and patterns between chronic issues and food. This is something that medical professionals can’t provide. They usually do a test (which means take a snapshot) and provide treatment (usually a medication based on little information).
Rather, with this type of information, you’ll be able to better facilitate a discussion with health professionals to get at the right solution for you and your body.