Many of my clients at The Worx in Alexandria, VA, have found that keeping a food journal made big difference in not only how successful they were with weight loss, but also opening their eyes to the amount of food they eat without thinking. While they might skip lunch or dinner, they may snack a little at a time throughout the day. On the surface, it seems like they barely eat, but once they write everything down, it’s amazing the number of calories consumed and how unhealthy their choices were.
You have to record everything you eat or drink.
Luckily, technology makes it far easier to track your food intake. There’s no need to carry a pencil and paper with you to record it. You can use the note area in your phone and later transcribe it and add in the amount of calories. The more information you give, the more benefit you’ll get. If you record your mood when you eat something, you can learn if you’re a stress eater or are stuffing your emotions with food.
It may not be the food that’s the problem, but what you drink.
Some people pride themselves on eating healthy, but slug down a soft drink or two with every meal. Even if it’s liquid, it still counts toward calories and in the case of a soft drink, a lot of empty calories. Think of it this way, gravy is fattening and you probably don’t pour it generously on your potatoes for that reason. It’s also a liquid. Just one small fast food 16-ounce cup of cola with a meal increases your calorie intake by 130 calories. Drink three or four of those a day and you’re adding between 390 calories and 520 calories every day. If you drank four a day and gave them up, changing nothing else, in one week you’d lose a pound.
Is a food allergy or intolerance a potential problem?
Tracking your issues, whether it’s hives, diarrhea, bloating or gas, particularly if you’re food journaling to find out if you have a food allergy or intolerance, is important. If you record feeling bloated or sick after eating certain foods, you have more of an idea what’s making you sick, particularly if it occurs several times. You’ll have more information for your health care professional if it is severe enough to go, with anecdotal incidences that provide clues to your discomfort or illness.
- When you track your food, you can identify those times you eat mindlessly, like grabbing a few chips as you pass by a bowl or open bag or cleaning up that last bit of food from the serving bowl when you do dishes.
- Learning portion control is another great lesson from food journaling. You’ll be able to identify what a portion size of any food is after a while and be more aware of how much you really eat.
- You can monitor your balance of food and the percentage of carbs, fats and proteins that you consume daily to be more aware of your macronutrients.
- There are several studies that show the benefit of food journaling. One study noted that just by journaling, without dieting, people lost weight during a three-month period, compared to a control group that didn’t.
For more information, contact us today at Team Worx