About Food Journals
We often suggest using food journals, at least for a period of time. The purpose of keeping a food journal is to increase your awareness and help you, or others who may be helping you, keep track of things so when you look back you can see what worked and what didn’t. All our suggestions are meant to help you reach your goals, so if you notice a lot of resistance coming up, try to use some of the skills from Key 4 and just allow the feelings to be there, accept them, and let them go. Try this for one day even if you are afraid. We suggest your food journal contain the following information.
1. Date and time of day.
2. Description of food eaten.
3. Amount of food eaten. (Be general or specific depending on needs.)
4. Hunger level before eating.
5. Fullness level after eating.
6. Feelings or thoughts.
7. Urges to binge or purge and any bingeing or purging behavior.
Food Journal Example
Time Food and Amount Hunger (Fullness) Feelings Urge-Binge/Purge
7:00 A.M. cereal/milk,1/2 banana 2-7 hopeful N/N
10:10 A.M. scone, latte 4-8 anxious, fat Y/P
1:15 P.M. tuna sandwich, apple 3-7 happy, nervous N/N
4:30 P.M. a few Crackers 4-4 anxious N / N
8:45 P.M. 4 tacos, beans, salad, chips 2-9 anxious, guilty, full Y/ P
10:20 P.M. cottage cheese, 1 peach 5-7 sad, determined N/N
What I learned: I’m not really ready to challenge myself with a scary snack like a scone and latte. It made me feel anxious and fat even though I was hungry. I freaked out after and purged. I also realize that only eating crackers for afternoon snack is not enough and a setup for getting way too hungry, especially since I waited too long to eat dinner. I ended up eating way too much and then purged again. I also did not reach out for help after purging earlier in the day, which I need to do to help me get back on track.
PERSONAL FOOD JOURNAL
You will need to make copies of the Food Journal we supply in this worksecrets, or make your own and copy. To start with, use the Food Journal sheets to keep track of your food andfeelings for a day, a few days, or more. We highly recommend you add Filling Out My Food Journal to your Goals Sheet and keep doing this assignment for a while. You will discover patterns and stumbling blocks and determine how best to target your foodjournaling to be of help.
NOTICING YOUR EATING PATTERNS
Look over a few days or a week of your foodjournal. Notice what patterns emerge; what feelings got in the way, which food decisions made things harder for you, and which ones worked out well. These insights will provide valuable information about what, how, when, and where you can make adjustments to move forward in recovery.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself when reviewing your foodjournal.
Are some times of the day harder than others?
Do you ever reach out to people for help?
Does eating with others help you?
Do you often let too much time elapse between eating?
How does your hunger level affect how much you eat?
Is it harder to stop eating when you start off overly hungry?
Do you under eat to balance over eating?
Do you find yourself at the extreme ends of the hunger scale more often than not? Do you binge when tired or angry, or any other clear emotional trigger?
Do your explanations give you clues about where or how you are stuck?
Write a summary of what you have learnedfrom your foodjournal.