Food journaling is one of the most valuable tools nutrition professionals can use to monitor clients’ eating habits. Multiple studies prove the benefits of food journaling for overall health including weight loss success, diabetes and food allergy management, and food intolerance identification.
The reality, however, of keeping a detailed food record is that it is a very tedious task for clients looking to improve their diet. As a nutrition professional, how many times have you asked a client to keep a food journal to be met with partially filled in logs, incomplete information, and vague descriptions?
Traditional food logging that focuses on calorie counting and specific macronutrient intake can be laborious and time consuming, an unpleasurable part of one’s eating experience and even inaccurate. Over time, this can lead to frustration, poor client engagement and abandonment of food journaling.
Furthermore, number-driven food logging does not always take the nutritional quality of foods into account. We recently spoke with a group of dietitians about food journaling and many expressed concern about their clients becoming obsessed with the numbers. Several mentioned that traditional food journaling may lead to clients eating only low-calorie “diet” foods, instead of learning about nourishing and wholesome food choices [that may be more calorically dense], because they are concerned about balancing their caloric budget. This was confirmed by one small study which examined reasons individuals missed food journaling entries and found that 13 percent of respondents intentionally did not journal for not wanting to exceed their caloric budget for the day.
Number-focused food journaling may also be dangerous for some individuals’ mindset. One dietitian reported that if a client eats nourishing meals all week long, but then consciously chooses pizza for dinner on Friday night, seeing a high number of calories and grams of fat may interfere with positive progress the client has made in their relationship with food. This “all or nothing” mindset that many chronic dieters experience can lead to further discouragement and feelings of failure. This may even encourage an unhealthy relationship with food.
Rather than a number-driven journal, Healthie’s patient-friendly platform utilizes photo-based food journaling. Clients can quickly snap a picture of their food, post it to the app, and rate various provider-determined metrics, such as pre-meal hunger, post-meal fullness, perceived healthiness of the meal and more. This science-backed style of journaling enables clients to view their food as a whole, rather than hyper-focusing on numbers.
Food photos have been shown to be an accurate tool for estimating the nutrient content of meals and proper portion sizes. Studies prove that photo food journaling can lead to improved taste perception of food, better recall of details surrounding meals (including who, what and when meals were enjoyed, fewer barriers to journaling, more adventurous eaters, healthier food choices and increased mindfulness in food choices. Moreover, study participants across a variety of photo food journaling studies frequently report feeling less judgment surrounding their food choices, which increases food journaling compliance.
Healthie wants to help you help your clients be more successful in reaching their goals which is why we integrated a photo food log as a featured component of the Healthie platform. Clients of Healthie providers track their food in our patient-friendly mobile app and providers are notified in real-time of new journal entries. Healthie providers may comment on journal entries to increase client engagement and accountability between sessions.
If more detailed food journaling information is required, Healthie integrates with FitBit. Metrics from FitBit are automatically recorded within the Healthie platform, creating a more meticulous breakdown of a client’s food intake and physical activity. Clients need not have a wearable device, but can use FitBit’s online platform instead for this function. Healthie has also planned other partnerships with tracking platforms for further integrations in the future.
To find out more about Healthie’s photo food logging, schedule your demo or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!