Keeping a food journal of all of the foods that you eat each and every day is a highly recommended and proven way to encourage your weight loss and to help you keep the weight off in the long run. This very easy task only takes a few minutes per day and is a habit that you need to train yourself to do daily.
Keeping a food journal is a great way to help you truly understand the problems with your diet and eating habits. This worthwhile annoyance will allow you to really be truthful about the amount of food you are eating, where you are making mistakes, and what your weaknesses are.
If you are really honest with yourself through this process, your food journal can be like a really objective friend who is able to show you what you are doing and all of the mistakes you are making.
The first step you need to take is to find a notebook. While any notebook will do, find one that you are able to tailor to your own needs. If you are better using a paper notebook, great, there are many options for you that you can find at office supply stores, stationery stores, or even your local drug or grocery stores. You may be someone who prefers to use electronic devices, so you can use your laptop, your smart phone, or your tablet to help you to keep accurate records of your food choices.
Next you will want to organize your food journal. Whether it is electronic or in a notebook, create columns where you can list the date, time, location, who you were with, how you were feeling, and the food you ate that day. Some people also choose to document their physical activity in the same notebook so they can easily compare the amount of calories that they take in and the amount they are eliminating through exercise.
If you have chosen to do an electronic food journal, there a number of websites online that you can use for these services if you have access to the internet. Many of these are free, and some of them charge, but the benefit is that many of these sites will also help you to calculate the number of calories that you ingested. This process will help you to figure out what the patterns are related to your eating and where you need to focus.
An important point of focus: add the items into your food journal as you eat them. Immediately. Not later, but the very moment you eat whatever it is you are eating! This will initially be tough to remember, but as you focus on this process you will get into the habit of adding your food items. Do not think that you can add all of your food items at the end of the day. We guarantee you that you will forget the little snacks, side dishes, and drinks that you had throughout the day. Also when people don’t do it immediately, they tend to stop doing their food journal because they get out of the habit of doing it.
Also, you need to be extremely specific with your journal. You can’t just write down that you had a sandwich; you need to note that it was a chicken salad sandwich with lettuce, tomato, mayo on wheat toast. This way, you will make sure to get into the habit of documenting literally everything that you ate without making the mistake of NOT adding the little things that truly do add calories to your diet as well as pounds to your waistline.
Another tip is that you shouldn’t blow off writing down the date, time and location of your food intake. While it may initially seem unnecessary, it is actually one of the most important parts of your diet. You will very easily begin to notice things like what time of day you seem to binge eat, or that you eat while you are on the road for work when you are unable to access healthy food. This will lead you to making better decisions, like taking healthy snacks or healthy foods on the road with you. You may actually identify periods of time where you are not eating enough, which might be leading you to overeating later in the day. Identify where your problem areas are. Are you eating too much in the evening before you go to bed, are you eating huge meals, are you skipping meals and then binging later in the day?
Many dieters find it helpful is to write down how they feel at times throughout the day when they are writing down their food intake. OK, so for most people that might sound too fluffy and they will think it is entirely unnecessary and ridiculous. But it can actually identify some major issues that are encouraging you to eat. Many people find the problem emotions to be bored or depressed. Others seem to have trouble when they are stressed, upset, angry, or frustrated. These are drastically different emotions, but they can cause people to respond in a similar way.
Just writing your food choices down will help you make better decisions. Most people wind up feeling a sense of guilt when they are writing down what they ate. Over time this changes because you are actually anticipating that negative feeling of regretting what you put in your body. This isn’t meant to be a negative situation, but you will wind up regretting when you make a poor decision, and cheering yourself on when you make a great one. This gives you a sense of accountability for your choices and in time will cause you to make better ones.
Recording your physical activity is extremely important as well. You should try to get about an hour of physical activity per day while you’re going through this weight loss process, even if it is just walking or moderate exercise. The more you commit to keeping yourself moving, the better.
The most important tip our trainers repeat time and time again is to be positive! Sure, keeping a food journal, and weight loss in general, is hard. Most people don’t realize how incredibly difficult it is until they try it. But have an optimistic demeanor and keeping your mood elevated even during the most difficult moments is what is going to get you through it. Try to do something every day for yourself that makes you feel positive. Whether it is patting yourself on the back for dropping a size, or cheering yourself on for working out extra long, or declining dessert at dinner. No matter what it is, try to find something positive about each and every day to keep yourself going.
The incredible benefits of a food journal are too immense to be included here, but it will definitely help you with your weight loss goals. If you have trouble with portion sizes, the food journal will help you to measure where you are overeating. If you are trying to eliminate fat and sugar from your diet, it will allow you to measure when and where you are eating. If you have poor eating habits and don’t eat at certain times and overeat at other times, your journal will help you to identify what you should do better. If you are an emotional eater, your journal will show you what emotions are leading you to overeating.
Your food journal is a huge key to your weight loss and meeting your goals, so give it a try right away if you want to see success in losing weight and living a healthier life. Have you tried food journaling? What were your results? Share your thoughts with us!