Food and Activity Journals Keep Patients on Track

In your practice, you have both the responsibility and the opportunity to help patients make healther lifestyle choices.

Many of your patients may be overwhelmed by the recommendations in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which include at least one hour of physical activity each day for children and up to five hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week for adults. Remind your patients that any activity is better than none. Help them set realistic goals. A beginning goal might be as basic as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or walking for five to 10 minutes after dinner each night. Help patients select activities they are likely to keep doing. (Source: Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans(

Patients can track their activity level over time by recording in a journal what they do on a daily basis. Have your patients bring their journals to each visit, and celebrate small successes with them. Emphasize that the purpose of the journals is awareness, not judgment. Let your patients know that using a journal is a proven way to achieve success in changing behavior, losing weight, and cultivating a healthier lifestyle.

Keeping a food and activity journal can also be a way to address emotional well-being. In the journal, patients record what they eat each day and how they feel. This can help patients understand how their emotions affect what they eat. It can teach them not to reach for food in order to deal with stress or other emotions. Patients should also be encouraged to set small, achievable goals related to their emotional well-being, such as spending five minutes each morning in prayer or meditation, or having lunch with a friend once a week. (Source: Four Strategies for Promoting Healthy Lifestyles in Your Practice)