The #1 way to lose weight is at your fingertips. Writing your way to weight loss is as easy as keeping a food journal. Yes, it does take time to write down everything you have eaten during the day, but a food journal is important to help you cut down on overeating, for self-assessment and monitoring.
Studies show that people who have kept a food journal, lost more weight and kept more of the weight off in the long run. In fact, a recent study by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that dieters who tracked their food intake in a food journal lost twice as much weight as those who did not track their food.
Why does keeping food journal help you lose weight?
- A food journal tracks the food we eat and makes us responsible for our food choices.
- By tracking our food choices, we can see our eating patterns that give us insight into why and when we eat.
- We can monitor our calorie intake to determine if we need to eat less or exercise more.
Begin by creating a baseline food journal.
In the beginning of the weight-loss program, you will want to create a baseline food journal and keep track of a “typical” week of food choices and exercise. This will help you determine what you need to work on—such as problem times, situations or circumstances that make it difficult to eat healthy. You can be as detailed as you want to be, to help you accomplish your goal. The following are some suggestions on what to write down in your food journal:
- What and how much you eat. Be honest and thorough with estimating your food portions. Be sure to keep track of items such as candy, condiments, etc., and record as you go for accuracy.
- When and where you eat. Track the time of day, how long you ate, and where you ate such as a fast food place, work place cafeteria, etc.
- Who and what activity you were involved in. Were you having brunch with a friend, reading, watching TV?
- What was your mood while you were eating? Are you happy, bored, or stressed, etc.? Determining your mood will tell you if you are eating triggered by emotions or hunger.
- Record any exercise. Include the activity, length, intensity, and the estimated calories burned.
- Include any special categories that you want to monitor such as carbs, fat or fiber content.