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How to make food journaling more efficient

Posted: Apr 16, 2013

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How to make food journaling more efficient

My last post describing what often takes place when one stops tracking got me thinking: “How can one make tracking easier and more efficient?”   The following are suggestions that will hopefully make food journaling the easiest part of your day.  It’s important to note that when you are first starting out, it will most likely take more time and effort.  Of course, this is true of almost anything including new jobs, new relationships, and new hobbies/activities (e.g. sports).  Rest assured that it should get faster as time goes on.

a)      Record in advance.  If you know what you are having ahead of time, make note of it early.  For example, record your breakfast the night before or your packed lunch made in the morning.

b)      Make a cheat sheet.  We normally cycle through roughly thirty different foods so recording the portion sizes and calories of these foods all in one place will save time.   Hint: there is a cheat sheet located in the back of the BMI food journal.  As time passes, you’ll also probably start memorizing the calories for these common foods. 

c)      Use acronyms or short-hand.  Instead of writing peanut butter and jam sandwich, why not simply write pb&j sand?  You can also condense your breakfasts by calling them “breakfast A”, “breakfast B”, etc… So long as you make note of the individual components at least once.

d)     Use smartphone apps.  If you have access to a smartphone, consider tracking via one of the many apps such as myfitnesspal, mynetdiary or Sparkpeople.  Many apps include a “save meal”, “copy meal” and frequent or recent items options that make tracking as simple as a few taps.  If you’re well organized from a meal-planning standpoint, it’s possible to pre-populate your entire week and then simply modify as required throughout.  This is also possible via writing.

Once you get some tracking time under your belt, it should take no longer than about five minutes per day.

Mark McGill, RD