If you find it difficult to keep track of your eating habits and find that you’re not succeeding as well as you would like on your weight loss program then one great suggestion is to keep track of everything by using a food journal or diet diary.
Keeping a detailed journal can be what stops your dieting merry-go-round and leads you to truly understanding your dietary mishaps so you can make the necessary changes to help you reach success! There are several ways to get started keeping a food journal but the important thing is to document everything which includes not just food but also beverages (coffee drinks, soda, juice, alcohol). The first thing is to note your main goals which are both long-term and short-term. Long-term goals are things like losing a specific amount of weight or inches. It could also be an activity goal like being able to run 4 miles. Short-term goals are things such as eliminating or regulating certain junk foods which you are eating more of than you should be or it might be to eat more healthy superfoods like kale or quinoa.
Sometimes we need a little help with notes and diaries to keep our day organized so why not a food journal to document our diet intake? It just makes perfect sense when you think about it. What gets measured, gets managed! With kids, work and various appointments, most people are super busy during the day which tends to have a direct effect on our diets. When you’re limited on time, it’s easy to just grab something fast which usually means it’s unhealthy and greasy. A food journal will help to remind you of these times when you’re not consciously aware of the junk foods you’re inhaling which is easy to do when mindless eating sets in.
Keeping a food journal does not have to be a chore or super time-consuming unless you wish to track specific details (thoughts, feelings) so you can be as detailed and intricate as you need to be. It’s always beneficial to document how you’re feeling, especially when you decide to eat unhealthy food. As you document this information, you will soon realize certain thoughts, feelings and emotions that trigger a junk food binge.
Some people like to track calories, protein, fat and carbs and other nutrient information for each food item and beverage they consume which can be extremely tedious. These type of people like to get extremely detailed while others might fail if they had to keep these kinds of specific details, so try to enter as much information as you are comfortable with and that fits into your schedule. The main point is to just do it, so if that means spending 10 minutes a day writing down basic foods and drinks you consumed, then start off that way. It does absolutely no good if you quit after 2-3 days if you decide that food journaling is simply taking too much time out of your day. The data is the key to making changes, so work within your time frame and try to document as much data as you’re comfortable with.
The more data you document, the more information you will have to look back and analyze. Viewing the items and details you log will enable you to find specific areas that you can tweak and improve. Also, when asking advice from a professional (trainer, nutritionist), the first item they will want to see is your food journal so you will be a step ahead of the game if you already have a ton of data!
Your food journal will show patterns and the reality of your current diet. You may initially think you are doing great and only eating unhealthy foods once in a while until you actually see it written down and then you realize there are big time changes that you need to implement! A common statement I hear from clients who keep food journals is “no wonder I gained 10 pounds”!
Sometimes it’s small changes like replacing certain foods or avoiding alcohol that can make a huge difference. In some cases, people simply don’t eat enough food during the day and they live with their bodies in survival mode which hoards body fat which means zero weight loss. Keeping a food journal will clearly show you where you need to make specific changes to your diet plan so you can succeed with your plan and reach your goals!