The Happiness Project: Food Journals

This week I decided to impart not only a little eating advice, but also a reading suggestion! My study abroad experience last year was obviously a very tough year with constant daily struggles. About 5 months into the experience, my Mom told me about one the books that she and her book club were reading that, after reading it, really made a difference in my daily Ecuadorian life. The title alone peaked my interest. For those of you who haHappinessProjectve not read “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin, READ IT. I command you.  The story line is of self-improvement and trying to create a happier life by focusing on one small thing a week at a time. During her journey, Rubin decided to focus one week on keeping a food journal. After she had succeeded with other mini happiness projects in past weeks, she figured that by keeping an eating journal, she could try to focus on healthier eating which would contribute to her overall happiness. Although it is all written down in the book, the summary of her experience was that keeping a food journal is hard stuff!


Now, many of you might think that a food journal is something that only body building overly-health conscious people do. False. Even if you are simply trying to shed a few pounds, a food journal can be a crucial element to success! For Rubin, the journaling really made her realize just what she was putting in her mouth and what could be eliminated. Unlike calorie counting, the journal really makes you aware of WHAT you are putting into your system and not the calorie count of it. Her experience showed her that her handfuls of M and Ms throughout the day actually were quite frequent and contributed a large amount to her diet. “Grazing” aka going through your fridge and random times during the day and eating a little bit of this and that can be deadly to anyone who is trying to lose weight. By keeping track of her foods, Rubin became more conscious of what she was eating. She was able to eliminate the majority of grazing and only snacked occasionally. Success!


Keeping track of your food is a pain in the neck, so you have to make it a habit! I decided to give the food journal a test trial this week and see what happened. I quickly realized the recording after every meal was impossible. I am always running every which way and am always late for something so do not have the time to write anything down after a meal. I was, however, able to remember my foods of the day and write it all down before going to bed. It was an effective method. Usually I manage to squeeze in handfuls of sour patch kids or chocolate throughout the day but keeping a food journal really helped me to limit my personal food grazing!

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So this week’s challenge, keep a food journal. Section off part of one or your notebook with three columns for breakfast, lunch and dinner (with spaces in between for healthy snacking) and record your food for the week! It will really make you conscious of what exactly you are putting into your mouth on a daily basis! Start your own personal happiness project!

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