What Does It Take To Make Food Journaling Fun?!?
If you’re anything like me, you start off with the best intentions. Then, the moment something stops being fun or new, is starts to slip down in the priority list. Finally, it becomes something I just can’t bring myself to do.
This is what used to happen to me every time I started to keep a food journal.
What is Food Journaling?
Food journaling means different things to different people. For me, there are two versions of it. The first is food tracking. The second is special thoughts about what I liked, what I didn’t, how I feel (wellness, energy, etc) and other interesting details.
The first journal is something I like to do online. I’m happy whether that’s an app or web-based. As long as I can access it on my phone, I’m good. Still, making it accessible on both my phone and computer speaks to the old school side of me that likes to see things on a larger screen, too.
What Does it Take to Make Food Journaling Fun?
I realized that I had better think of some way to keep it fun or I’d never be able to make it a lasting habit. Here are my 5 best strategies, and the goodies that made it work.
- Pretty journals & pens are my weakness. I tried using an app on my phone, thinking that the convenience would do the trick. It didn’t. I still lapsed before a week was out. As soon as I bought myself a pretty planner and a “special” pen, just for my food log, though? It worked and it keeps working. There is something about using my Eat Pretty Live Well Guided Journal that makes even tedious snack logging fun. Better still is using colored gel pens that make the pages burst with visual encouragement.
- Reward system. Every time I complete a full week of food journaling, I reward myself with a bouquet of fresh flowers for the kitchen. It’s a treat that I don’t allow myself unless I really did the work, and any time I get lazy, I remind myself of how much the flowers make me smile when I pass them on the counter. It’s an easy, non-food-based reward system that really works for me, but for you it might be something different. My sister rewards herself with a monthly pedicure. Whatever works!
- Bragging Rights. I mentioned my sister in #2 because she and I have always been each others’ support system, cheerleading squad, and biggest competition. It gives us ridiculous amounts of satisfaction to compare our journaling successes with each other, and WOE be unto the sister who has been slacking! Better than winning at Words With Friends, by far.
- Keep testing apps or web-based options. The first app I tried, I didn’t like. It was spectacular for tracking fitness, but very weak for nutrition tracking. So instead of giving up this time, I just downloaded another app and tried another site. I did it simultaneously. I knew it would be a nuisance to have to track on more than one platform at a time. Still, it was worth it because I found some options I really like and would be willing to use long-term.
For web-based, I’d say my favorite was ShareFit. For apps, I like Spark People. They each have their own strengths and of all the options I tried, they were the ones that motivated me the most. One encourages me to share in order to keep up charitable donations that are free to me. The other has a barcode scanner that means I just have to scan a product with my phone and it automatically identifies what it is and what the nutrient contents are.
- Check your nutrition reports. One of the best things you can do to give yourself an advantage when you’re food journaling, is to use the features available to you. For me, it’s the nutrition reports. They help me to remain accountable not just for my calories, but I’m now aiming for a good macronutrient balance. I obsess over certain other angles in my nutrition on any given day, so I love being able to learn more about the details of my meals and snacks as well. This helps to motivate me to keep things up over time because it nearly turns things into a game!