When starting a lifestyle change, one of the most helpful tools in any program is the food log. A food log is simply a record of your food intake. You can use a digital app, like Fruit Street where you can take photos of your food within their mobile app to track your meals. Here are a few reasons why the food log can be beneficial:

Build habits: Change is built on small habits. When one is eager for results, it can be tempting to try several big changes at once. However, lasting, successful change is created by building a solid foundation of simple habits. A food log, such as a photo of your food, can be the beginning of this change.

Awareness: Logging your meals before you eat can bring awareness to mindless snacking. Humans are notoriously bad at accurately reporting food intake after it has already occurred. Often people will forget to include everything and therefore will underestimate their intake. Tracking in the moment will be much more effective at getting a true picture of your food intake.

Portion control: During the Diabetes Prevention + Weight Loss Program, your dietitian will help you build on your habit of logging meals by providing feedback. They may suggest measuring portion sizes, reading food labels, or noting how the food was prepared. You can also learn visual cues about portion control using the plate method and compare to your own food logs.

Identify triggers: Your food log can also help you identify your own “triggers” for overeating. Keeping track of certain details such as when you ate, where you ate, why you chose it, and how you were feeling can reveal certain patterns over time. For example, maybe your coworkers insist on grabbing fancy coffee drinks every afternoon.

Evaluate your goals: You can use your food log to help guide your goals each week. Making SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely gives you a plan to help reach your overall goal. For example, you can review your food log and see if you achieved your goal of eating 2 vegetable servings each day.

You can take the first steps towards a healthy lifestyle today by logging your meals. This valuable information can help you create lasting change.