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Food Journals Help with Weight Loss

October 24, 2014

800px-Flowering_cherry_treeA food journal can increase the success of a new eating regimen. Food journals offer insight of things we sometimes don’t think about which, in turn, when seeing and realizing where changes are needed, can be an effective means of losing weight. This need not be a fancy journal but to be effective should be portable so choose something you can easily carry with you. An effective food journal documents several key points.

The first thing it records is what you eat. Write down everything that you eat. If it’s a nibble on a handful of popcorn or a bite of something you “just have to try” record it. With keeping a written record you can chart what is coming into your body. Keep track of drinks too including that tea with a spoon of sugar which can add up. Get in the habit of measuring your food. If a serving is cup accuracy for a cup is important. If you eat two cups it is doubling the nutritional calories and intake.

Record the calories from those things you ate. There are often hidden calories’ in snacking because we think of meals, not snacking when we look at calories. The body, however, makes use of everything and doesn’t differentiate between the two. Recording this is a food journal helps keep track of these sources. Also when snacking keep track of how much you eat. A fun sized’ candy bar and a giant sized is not the same!

Note the time of day that you eat. Some people need a mid afternoon snack or eat a light breakfast then are hungry mid morning. Eating between meals, during meals and charting when you eat can give clues to further control. If you find you’re eating dinner then falling asleep perhaps eating earlier with a short walk afterwards can help.

How hungry are you? On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being “have to eat NOW!” really how hungry are you? With recording and charting rate it between 1-3 with 1 being very hungry and 3 not really hungry can result in healthier substitutions, drinking water or other alternatives to consuming calories.

Where are you? Does what you eat dictate this in what is available? Are you home, in the car, at the office, at lunch or between appointments? Where are you when the urge to eat strikes? By documenting you might, in time, notice a pattern.

Are you alone or with someone else? If with someone, record who it is. Does one person have a distinct association with food? If so can you alter your behavior such as drinking a half hour before hand to curb hunger cravings?

How are you feeling as you eat? Are you lonely or bored? Are you seeking something besides food?

It is important to understand the mindset of a food journal also. Keep it positive as much as possible! It is not a punishment or a listing of wrong-doing. It’s a statement of fact that empowers you to, in time and observation, take control of your eating habits. It helps balance your food and liquid intake.

Sometimes observations and changes are easy. If you consume too much soda and would like to cut back, and you find you drink a 20 ounce bottle on the way home you can seek changes. Substitute a 20 ounce bottle of water even if it’s refilling a soda bottle with water. This increases your water intake and lowers the soda intake at the same time.

In the same way if you see a pattern of mid afternoon snacking, have available at your desk a 100 calorie snack instead of that 400 calorie monster from the vending machine. With a 300 calorie difference five times per week that’s 1500 calories in one change!

This is not difficult to do but does take persistence. It can help you meet that goal of shedding 20 pounds or even 50 pounds. Consider this if someone says “it’s only 50 pounds” hand them a bag of dog food to carry around for the day! It’s only 50 pounds!

Many people find it’s not major changes that make a difference but rather the little ones. It’s parking another 50 feet from the store and making small changes that mean long term success. A food journal can help insure this with documented encouragement of those little things we’re forgetting.

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