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Keeping a diary

February 18, 2009 - Kathie Evanoff
I’ve kept journals and diaries since I was old enough to write down my thoughts, but those are nothing compared with keeping a food diary. First of all, personal journals don’t have to be updated daily if you don’t have the time or the inclination, but food journals, in order to be helpful, must not only be kept daily, but often three or more times a day.

Food journaling is definitely helpful, but don’t let it get out of hand. Compulsive record keeping isn’t healthy. I don’t believe it is meant to consume a major part of your life, or even your day. In addition to trying to change our lifestyle, we don’t need the added stress of being constantly worried about getting those meals recorded. I believe it borders itself on becoming an eating disorder.

I believe that record keeping, although recommended by many healthy eating programs, is primarily meant to be a guide. It should be done at the beginning of any new diet and healthy eating program to help you keep track of your food intake so you can head off missteps before they happen. Some programs recommend starting your journal a week before you actually start the diet, so you can take a look at how to make changes in food choices compared to what you did. Others expect constant record keeping, not to mention calorie counting and keeping track of fat, carbs, protein and other nutrients throughout the entire diet. I don’t know about you, but I can’t maintain a schedule like that.

There are Web sites that can make it easier. I’ve previously mentioned the USDA and FDA pyramid program at This program is based on the food pyramid that replaced the four food groups that our parent’s generation followed. Some critics of the pyramid complain that it is too complicated, while others say it doesn’t address enough. While it certainly addresses more than the four food group plan, it can be complicated; however, the Web site makes it easy to adapt the pyramid program to fit individual needs by simply inputting your statistics where indicated on the Web site. The pyramid planner keeps a basic graph of your daily food intake and, at the same time, calculates everything for you so there is no need to carry around calorie calculators, food diaries and reference books. (I have a calorie/fat counter paperback book that is at least three inches thick and adds a lot of extra weight to the already too heavy purse that is slung from my shoulder. It now sits comfortably on a bookshelf at home for reference rather than as a constant companion).

Another Web site that allows you to keep a food diary online is Formerly known as “The Daily Plate,” is a site that doesn’t require a particular eating plan, although it does have links to several well-known diet programs. The site offers a calorie counter, contests and challenges, fitness tips and videos and articles on health that include things such as how to quit smoking, get more sleep and spending more time with your family. Register to keep your journal, blog, read the articles and see the videos and join in forum discussions, but there is a cost for the calorie counter.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have admittedly been a slacker. Not only with the blog, but with my own healthy choices. Winter brought me back-to-back colds and a bout of bronchitis. The new year brought a call to jury duty where I was absent for a few days as I sat in on a trial, and family illness has kept us more than just a little depressed. When I started writing this blog a year ago, my plan was to be more faithful in its upkeep and in a healthy eating schedule. Little did I know the challenges I would face. But that wasn’t the point. The point was to be able to adapt to those challenges and continue along the path to healthy eating. I can’t say that I failed completely, but admittedly the faithfulness hasn’t been there.

It’s a new season. Spring will be here before we know it, which means warm weather and the inability to hide beneath layers of clothes. I did not join a team this year, but in light of the Tribune Chronicle Fitness Challenge I intend to challenge myself to get back on track with both the blog and healthy eating. Keep reading this blog to get healthy recipes and see how it works out. You can also read other fun food blogs to stay motivated. At (Eat Like Me) follows the real way a registered nutritionist eats every day. At, you can watch as a nutritionist in training talks healthy eating and is the daily input of a pastry-chef in training as she attempts to eat healthy while being tempted by her potential profession.

There’s a lot to help keep us motivated, but we still have to do the work. Comment here with your own tips and ideas on staying motivated and getting healthy.


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