Journaling: Writing Your Way to Better Health

Are you stuck in the same exercise routine? Are you struggling to eat better?

A landmark study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that writing exercises (aka journaling) can help alleviate symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. This is why writing or journaling is one of the foundations of weight loss and health. I have a friend you says that some of the hardest writing she has done is about her health. I can’t disagree; this is a tough process for some.

But don’t fear: there are several types of journaling that might be beneficial for you to meet your health goals:

1. Gratitude Journaling – Oprah is a constant believer of this idea – being grateful for your everyday life. In my opinion, if you haven’t done journaling before, this might be an easy way to transition into it. Write down 5 things that you are grateful for everyday. Don’t worry about grammar, or punctuation. I’m grateful I didn’t get in a car accident. I’m happy I have 3 healthy kids, I’m grateful I have a caring spouse, etc… This exercise will help train your mind to view the world in a positive light. Attitude and values plays heavily in the pursuit of weight loss.

2. What, Where, When Journaling – Create 4 columns with the titles What, Where, When and How. Do this activity once a week. What behavior do you want to change? Write it down. Where and when will it occur? Write it down. How will you make the change (for the better)? Write it down. If you like a visual record of where you will go and what you are doing, this journaling technique might be for you

3. Stop, Start, & Keep Journaling – This journaling technique involves you making a chart about the behaviors you will stop, positive behaviors you will start, and what are you going to keep at the end of the week to meet your health/weight loss goals. While similar to the What, Where, and When journaling, it provides folks with an opportunity to be open to creating positive behaviors, instead of taking away ones that you might miss. Making small changes is key to keeping you motivated.

4. Food and Exercise Journaling – Why do you think Weight Watchers has folks write what they eat in the first several weeks of their program? They want to keep folks accountable with their food choices. Food and Exercise Journals help do that. There are several apps online that will do it:

GoMeals app (free) – by Calorie King

Tap N track ($3.99)

Other website-based journaling for your food records include:, (free), (free),

One thing to consider about creating your own food and exercise journal is that you might want to add a column/space for your mood/feelings. Why? Were you hungry, happy, sad…? These emotions might be triggers for us to indulge and eat foods we normally would not eat.

5. Think, Blink, Ink and Link Journaling – In my opinion, this type of journaling involves commitment to the writing process. “Think” requires you to find a quiet place for you to ask yourself a question you want the answer to. Your mind should be clear for this process. “Blink” is when you ask yourself the question 5 times. “Ink” is the time that you write down whatever comes to your mind about the answer. If you think this process is stupid, then write THAT! Don’t edit yourself or be concerned about grammar, punctuation or sentence structure. Then “link” the question to what you have written down (the answer). It is a process that is similar to brainstorming but very loose in its interpretation. No answer is wrong.
These journaling techniques are not the only options for folks out there. The internet provides folks an opportunity to explore their passions, travels, tribulations, and triumphs in the form of blogging. Journaling is definitely an opportunity for folks to explore who they are and how to overcome their everyday health hurdles.

Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
The pen is mightier than the sword.
–Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

About Sharon M., MS RD

As a registered dietitian and a master gardener, I know the healing power of food. Nothing has given me more satisfaction than growing my own food. I have experience working in the public health field, including school districts. I have worked with pregnant moms, children, diabetics, and bariatric patients. I emphasis a plant-based, whole food diet. Yet, I appreciate the movement of eating sustainably, while hoping folks appreciate the bean as a source of protein. "To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art." - Francois de La Rochefoucauld "Feeding is going well if both you and yor child are having a good time." -Ellyn Satter
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2 Responses to Journaling: Writing Your Way to Better Health

  1. dre says:

    excellent post. thanks. xo

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