Try and remember what you ate yesterday. Really think about it. Do you remember what you ate for breakfast? What about all the snacks in between your meals? The point is, is that you don't log your food (none of your friends do it, so why should you?), you do light-moderate exercise weekly (congratulations for walking the dog), you skip the binge drinking weekends (not as many regrets- we get it), and you still cannot seem to shed those unwanted pounds like you want to. Hmm… well, guess what? It’s time to start looking at what you shovel into your mouth and being honest about it. With who you ask? Yourself.
Let’s get down to business by looking at the benefits of keeping a food journal. Keeping track of your intake is the first step towards making a healthy lifestyle change. By creating a baseline, you are able to appropriately measure successes and failures, set goals, actually start changing your life and start going down the path you have always wanted to go on. Suddenly you start to hold yourself accountable, and quite honestly, it’s very hard at first! Just like anything in life, hard doesn’t necessarily mean bad. By facing yourself straight on you will become willingly able to witness your daily intake and have a more balanced perception of how much you actually eat in a day, in a week, and in a month.
Write Down Everything And Anything You Eat
What makes you fat is the fact that you are constantly telling your body these mythological thoughts about what you consumed that day rather than actually writing it down in a journal and facing it straight on. Ever played that game telephone? Ever been at the end of the line? Ever realized how misconstrued the first message was? That is exactly what you do when you lie and twist your food story and attempt to tell it to your body.
Kaiser Permanente studied more than 1,600 individuals, who kept a food journal, and found that the participants lost twice as much weight over six months (18lbs versus an average of 9lbs) compared to those who did not utilize a food journal.
If by carving out an extra minute or two after each meal to write down what you ate can help you lose twice as much weight then WHY WOULD YOU NOT DO IT?? But, if that isn’t enough of a reason, let us continue onward. Writing down everything you eat, is the first step to food journaling successfully. Another tip, keep it somewhere accessible. We’re naturally creatures of habit and we like to put things away. Leave your food journal on your night stand or on your counter, so you can write things down easily so you’re not apt to forget.
Learn The Power To Say No
Once you start food journaling, you may find out that it's pretty hard for you to say no. Individuals drastically underestimate the exact amounts of their daily food intake mainly because they do not take into consideration portion sizing. An extra helping means an extra lot. Keeping track of “ranch please!”, “another refill?”, and “can I get whip cream with that?” can add up to another 150-650 calories! And that isn’t even your food, it’s just crap you put on it! When it comes to food it is very easy to add on and add up. Before you know it you’ve reached your daily intake, it’s only 3 pm, and you still need to eat dinner! By systemically working on forming new habits, such as “no thank you”, your body will literally start transforming before your eyes.
Slow Down And Size Down
Ever notice how much more or less you eat depending on the size of the dishware your food is on? Size and color have a play in how much you eat believe it or not! Check out this article from the Journal Of Consumer Research by Dr. Koert Van Ittersum and Dr. Brian Wansick.
Darker plates, larger bowls, and larger utensils all have a significant roll in contributing to over-consumption and fast eating. Slow it down a little! Use a smaller dishware! Enjoy the people you are eating with and have more conversation. By doing so, you slow down the rate of consumption and increase your body’s ability to process your food more efficiently. This way, you are able to absorb more nutrients, break down nutrients better, and give your body some room to breathe. Say goodbye to heartburn, indigestion, and having to unbuckle your pants. Say hello to cinching your belt in a new notch, having more fun at dinner, and not being that person who asks for thirds.
Write Down Where, How, and How Much
Taking note of where you were, how you were feeling, how much you consumed, and your stress levels are all constituents of what you decide to put in your body. I know I’m asking a lot here, but I mean, it is called a food JOURNAL. Not a food worksheet. When you unknowingly consume food throughout the day you also underestimate the power that our mind has over our body. Suddenly, you have someone in the workplace yell at you and the next thing you know you’re in the break room shoveling down doughnuts that Sally brought in as a gift 6 hours ago. Other times you might notice that you consume sweets after you get off the phone with your family members. Or, maybe you can relate to this – you actually unknowingly reduce your caloric intake throughout the day, aka do not eat, because you are so consumed by what you have on your plate at work. Next thing you know you’ve gone 10 hours without eating or drinking a thing and you hit the energy wall like a freight train. Whatever steers you emotionally and mentally towards food is going to be a huge contributing factor to your overall physical health.
Keep Yourself Accountable
Nobody likes to admit that when they have a bad day they eat all the ice cream in the freezer and have a handful of dry cereal and maybe half an apple for dinner. But hell. It is a lot better to admit it to yourself than having to admit it to someone else. And if accountability from others works better than accountability from yourself? That’s fine… for now at least. The main point here? By keeping a food journal, you keep yourself accountable. You build mental and physical strength in addition to resilience all while creating a solid baseline to grow upwards from. It can only get better from here. Let’s look ourselves in the mirror and tell ourselves we can do this.
You are what you eat! And according to registered dietician Keri Gans, the author of The Small Change Diet, food has a direct effect on your mood. Skip a meal and you'll feel tired and cranky. "It's like trying to run a car without gas." "When you go too long without eating, your blood sugar sinks and mood swings ensue." One of the many benefits of food journaling, is that it will reveal eating patterns and habits that you may or may not be aware of. Eating regularly is a habit that many of us do not do well with. Food journaling will help keep you accountable, because if you don’t do well one day, you’ll consciously know to try harder the next.
Eat Wholesome Healthy Foods
The Food You Eat Will Reward You. Or kick you in the gut and punish You. You probably don't feel that great after pounding a pint of Ben & Jerry’s alone in bed when your housemate is not home because you had a shitty day. It might distract you from your real issues while you binge watch Netflix and hide from the gym, but in all honesty – it does not do shit but make you feel like shit.
Ever wonder why what you ate for lunch left you feeling like a million bucks or visa versa? Feeling grumpy, unmotivated, beat-down and sluggish is not always from your job or the people you surround yourself with or even your poor exercise habits; the first place to analyze why you feel like a fat turd is by looking at what you are eating.
Do not reward yourself with food
We're not animals, so don't treat yourself like one. Instead, consume healthful foods to feel better after you eat. Start treating food like fuel for your body. You would not (I hope you would not) put gravel in your gas tank and expect your car to run smoothly, would you? Let us work on not doing the same thing to our body. Eat clean to feel better, lose weight despite eating more calories, and feel better long after you eat food. Sounds simple when I put it that way, doesn’t it? THAT IS BECAUSE IT IS AND YOU CAN DO IT!!
Don't Conflict Your Perception For Reality
What happens when you conflict perception with reality? A whole hell of a lot. That’s what happens. I have heard, you have heard, everyone has heard the “I don’t drink very often” and the “I eat a ton of vegetables” to “I’m not a sweet person, I actually never eat them” bullshit that everyone throws around to make themselves feel better about the crap they eat when no one is looking. Everyone is guilty. What if I told you how good it feels to not have to lie about it, to myself, or to anyone else? What if I told you that making small changes in my diet that came as a result of being honest with myself about what I eat have literally changed my mind? Well guess what? They do! The point of a food journal has nothing to do with shaming or giving yourself so much guilt you avoid living a healthier lifestyle all together. Your competition is not anyone else – it is you. It is the unhappy, fat, unmotivated person that you see every morning unhappily shoving a foamy toothbrush around your mouth when you’re dragging ass before work. The point of a food journal is to learn about yourself.
Bottom Line: Keeping a Food Journal is Better Than Counting Calories
It’s a good idea to keep a food journal. There is great value in understanding and keeping track of the types and amounts of food that you eat. Especially if you have never paid attention before! The effort spent on keeping a food journal is worth it – trust me on this one. Food journaling requires you to put down more contributing factors than just counting numbers. By emphasizing portion sizes, emotions, time of the day, stressors, exercise, etc. you are able to look at how you feel before, during, and after eating. It’s a great tool to help you lose weight. The ultimate goal of a food journal is to identify unhealthy habits that shape your unhealthy lifestyle. Counting calories is good to have a general idea of how much you’re eating, but keeping a food journal gives you a head start on changing around life, one day at a time. Life is about feeling good, looking good, and being healthy, to live better. By keeping a food journal you enable yourself to help others change their lives also. Getting in shape and having healthy habits is difficult. Arm yourself with something as powerful as a detailed food journal and you will be on your way in no time.
Need help with developing healthy habits, creating a food journal and finding the nutrients you need to live a healthy life? Leave us a comment below!