When it comes to eating habits people tend to over or under estimate how well they are doing. For successful weight loss it is important to have an accurate idea of what you are really eating.
One of the best ways to avoid guess work when it comes to your food consumption is through a food journal.
The most successful food journals are ones that are updated regularly, organized clearly and reviewed often.
Below are tips on how to create, maintain and use a food journal to assist you in your weight loss journey.
Choosing your daily food journal format
Maintain a food journal should be easy and convenient. If it’s not, you won’t update it frequently and it loses its effectiveness.
Some find it easiest to keep a small note book with them so they can jot down any consumption right away. Others prefer a more technological approach through a website or smart phone application, many of which are free.
Those that want access to all the calculators available through virtual programs but find it inconvenient to log on throughout the day can do a combination of the two, recording their consumption throughout the day in a notebook and entering the information online at night.
No matter how you choose to keep your food journal, make sure it is something you can update regularly.
What to write in your journal?
What do you need to note down in your daily food journal?
Everything you eat and drink and when.
This includes your regular snacks and meals, those three jellybeans you nibbled, that soda in the afternoon, and the sample of beef brisket at the grocery store.
In the beginning to help keep you accurate and accountable to the true number calories you are consuming, it can be a good idea to note condiments you use, if you add cream/milk to your coffee or tea and any gum or breath mints you eat.
After you’ve been journaling a while, you can decide if you need to continue to account for these or not, but in the beginning it is a good idea to write down absolutely everything.
In addition to writing down what you consume, it can be very helpful to write down what you were doing while eating – driving, walking, standing, if you were alone or in a group, how you were feeling at the time (stressed, happy, bored, etc.) and how you would rate your hunger level at the time.
All of these factors are important to note so you can become more aware of what is triggering your consumption if not actual hunger.
How often should you review your food journal?
In the very beginning, some find it helpful to review their food journals daily so they can get a better feel for how their perception of their consumption versus their actual consumption varies.
It also serves as a good check that you are eating a healthy, balanced diet throughout the day to provide you body with what the nutrients it needs. After a while it is okay to just review your food journal every week to ensure you are staying on track.
In your review be sure to pay attention to what you are eating, not just how much. You could only be consuming a small amount of calories a day, but if they are all processed foods high in sugar, you aren’t helping your healthy weight loss progress. Also look to see if there are times that you really don’t need to be eating, but are.
Food journals are an excellent tool to keep your accountable and on track with your health and weight loss goals, but they don’t show an accurate representation if you don’t update them regularly and honestly.
Once you get in the habit of keeping a food journal it’ll be easier to maintain and you’ll be able to see patterns in your consumption and make the necessary positive changes.