Do you want to eat healthy and stay that way?

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

food pyramid
It’s important to eat a healthy diet and stick to it!

Ditching greasy potato chips and sugary soft drinks? Great! If not, it’s never too late to drop the soda can and whip up a fresh fruit salad. After all, eating healthy boosts energy levels, benefits bodily functions, and increases your overall sense of well-being. I make a real effort to eat right, but sometimes… well, I like to sneak in the occasional cola or a few bites of a doughnut… just to kick the craving! It’s not that many more calories, right?

Actually, according to a study conducted earlier this year, both kids and adults underestimate the amount of calories they eat! It’s kind of like that one jar game, where you have to estimate how many jellybeans are inside. Most of the time, the actual number is way bigger than all the guesses! Calculating how much junkfood I sneak into my diet is kind of like that, which is why it’s extremely important to keep a food journal!

I’m not talking about a diary filled with secret feelings and day-to-day musings about life. A food journal is simply a place to track your daily meals and nutrition – like proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamins. Don’t overeat like I do, or that journal might end up looking more like a novel!

But hey, I still stay in shape. Recess twice a day. Playing some soccer after school with my friends. Plus, I eat plenty of fresh fruits and leafy veggies! Shouldn’t that mean I can eat what I want, when I want it, and forget that dumb journal? Actually, unless you’re an Olympic athlete who pushes their body to the limits just about every day, you can’t have that attitude. It’s the “jellybeans in a jar” problem all over again. If a food journal still sounds lame, listen to this. A study from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that women who kept track of what they ate in a food journal lost 6 more pounds than the ladies that didn’t!

Oh. That caught my attention. Well, keeping track should be easy! All I have to do is check the food labels on the back of products. Okay, let me see here… woah… monounsaturated fat? Polyunsaturated fat? Vitamins A, C and D? What are all these percentages? If the labels are difficult to understand, relax, it’s fine. In fact, many adults have trouble figuring it out too! Thankfully, there are many websites, like choosemyplate.gov, and phone apps, like MyFitnessPal, that crunch all the numbers together for ya!

The main point of keeping a food journal is not to just sit there doing math problems with food nutrition percentages, but to become more aware of what’s going in your mouth. Even those health nuts out there might be surprised by how much sodium they’re eating and how often they break the rules for a bit of junk food!

Featured image courtesy of Joel Montes on Flickr.