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Food Journaling: A Tool for Healthy Diet Changes

Rosanne Rust is a registered dietitian and an author of several books in the Dummy series. Rosanne and I talked about Calorie Counter Journal For Dummies and why it is so important to start food journaling.

Calorie Counter Journal for Dummies

Neily: It’s so important to keep track of our food. Let’s talk a little bit about how important this book is.
Rosanne: I really wanted to write a tool that would help people become more aware of what they are eating so they can set better goals for their own personal health. And we know that keeping track of what you eat really helps. You become aware and get to the next point to make those changes to your diet.

But people don’t necessarily know what to do. Well, you say keep a food record. That’s a little vague. So, this book is a step-by-step guide to help individuals learn how to keep that food record, what to focus on and how to individualize it, personalize it for their own health and dietary goals.

Neily: Excellent. And we know that the research shows that when people keep food logs, they do better. And they have a tendency to overestimate what they do physically and underestimate what they eat.
Rosanne: Right. Absolutely. And that is the whole idea. When we write down what we eat, we are more aware of not just how much but where we are eating, how we are eating, what our hunger levels might be, what kind of mood we are in. So, we give very specific directions to help people understand the whole picture of not just how many calories they consume but the environment they are eating in. And whether they are hungry or not, those kind of things.
Neily: Exactly. So important not just what you are eating but also how your mood and everything affects you.
Rosanne: And everyone has different goals. You may have a really healthy eater, who really understands what good nutrition is, the balance is and they will say I know what healthy food is and I am eating well..
Neily: Right. They are eating nuts but eating handful of nuts..
Rosanne: Right. So portion may be their goal. Once they start writing down not just that they are eating almonds everyday and that’s good for me but counting them out – how many tablespoons, cups of nuts are you eating, and that helps them decide oh maybe it’s a portion control issue.

Someone who has just been diagnosed with high cholesterol or diabetes may have different dietary goals. So, when they are keeping track they might want to hone in on carbohydrates if they have diabetes or saturated fats if they have high cholesterol. And we take them through step by step so they can personalize their journal.There are journal pages in the book, but they are not completely specific. And we instruct the reader how to sort of put the heading on that journal everyday because everyone may not have to keep track of saturated fats necessarily. Maybe they need to just really focus on sodium. We give a lot of tips on how to set goals. You cannot set all the goals at once.

Neily: The first 64 pages are good nutrition, solid nutrition information.
Rosanne: And that’s the background. They have the toolbox they need in terms of where they are going with their diet. But working on achievable goals that are measurable and not too overwhelming. One week you may just look at sodium if you have just been diagnosed with hypertension and just focus on that. I find that clients have an easier time when they are just focusing on that one thing. When that becomes a change they modify that, and they can check it off their list and move along to the next area.
Neily: Great point. Excellent. And again the book is Calorie Counter Journal For Dummies. One of Rosanne’s other books is Hypertension Cookbook For Dummies*. I have a couple of videos on that one with Cindy Kleckner.
Rosanne: Cindy Kleckner. She did most of the fabulous recipes. Very tasty.
Neily: Great. Thanks so much.
Rosanne: And a shout out to my co-author, Meri Rafetto on the Calorie Counter Journal For Dummies. We hope we can help!

* Cindy and Rosanne just released the DASH Diet For Dummies.

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Jennifer Neily, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | Wellcoach® Certified Health Coach
http://NeilyonNutrition.com
@JenniferNeily

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