You Ate What?!

It’s not always convenient to keep a food and exercise journal, but the benefits of doing so are invaluable. Being aware (every day) of what you eat and drink, as well as your physical activity, can make a big difference when it comes to losing weight, keeping it off, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Powerful Weight Loss Tip: awareness is the key to change

Here are some tips to help you with journaling:

- Include ALL the foods and beverages you consume; measure portions whenever possible. This means writing down the butter you put on your bagel, the cream and sugar you add to your coffee, the cookie(s) you grab after lunch, the soda you drink in the afternoon, and the food you “taste” while preparing dinner. If you are going to do it, you may as well do it honestly and accurately. You might just find that you are actually eating more (or less) than you thought.

- Timing is critical. Record everything you consume as soon as you finish eating or you might (conveniently) forget what you had. Also, make note of the time you eat as well as how long it takes to finish your meal or snack. Keeping track of timing can help you identify and change patterns of behavior that aren’t supporting your weight loss goal.

- Keep your food journal handy. Filling it in should be a simple task that doesn’t take a lot of time. Some people find it easier to log using an app on their smart phone. The important thing is to do your journaling every day; it doesn’t matter what method you use.

- Make note of your hunger and fullness level every time you eat. Use a scale of 1-5 (1 very hungry, 2 somewhat hungry, 3 content, 4 comfortably full, 5 very full). Consider whether you are eating because you are truly physically hungry or just because; perhaps for some other reason such as boredom. This will give you the opportunity to get in touch with your feelings and deal with mindless behaviors. You might uncover a pattern you weren’t expecting.

- Review your food journal at the end of the day. Critiquing yourself will help to create awareness of your habits. You can use this information to help make goals for the next day. For example, you might discover that if you don’t eat every few hours, you get irritable and very hungry, and end up overeating later on.

What has been your experience with keeping a food log, food diary or food journal?