One of the most simple and useful tools for effective, long term weight loss is keeping a food journal, diary or meal log. It is a basic principle I share in my book Today is Still the Day and my 7 week weight loss plan. One of the first things I suggest to a weight loss client is to set up a food diary. I personally like to keep a small physical notebook but you can do it on your phone, the computer or use any one of a number of apps. Regardless of what you call it or of how you choose to do it, just do it!
It seems almost too simple but just keeping track of what you eat and how it makes you feel will help you to understand your eating habit patterns, identify the foods you eat on a regular basis that may or may not agree with you, as well as provide a record of measurable results to keep you motivated. This one, simple step can eliminate the problem of lack of awareness and control over what you’re eating, which makes all the difference in successful weight loss.
Studies have shown that women who keep a food journal consistently lost about 6 lbs. more than those who did not. In order to reap the most benefit from keeping track of your meals, you must be accurate and consistent. You have to be honest and write down exactly what you eat, how much, when and how it made you feel – did you feel gassy, bloated or nauseous within an hour or two? Note that as it may indicate a food you need to eliminate, at least temporarily. And I suggest writing it down as soon as you eat it so you are as accurate as possible. If you wait until the end of the day, chances are you won’t be nearly as accurate.
I also recommend you note how much exercise you get each day. This will let you know if you are getting enough activity or need to step things up.
I always recommend only weighing in once a week or once every two weeks. You should note that in your journal. Try and weigh at around the same time of day and on the same day of the week. This way you can go back and if you gained a few pounds you will be able to see what you may have done differently or what you may need to change.
This doesn’t have to take much of your time. Food tracking apps like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt! can make it easier and faster for those who are more tech-inclined. I find it doesn’t take more than 5 minutes per meal to note what I am eating and any other details. It’s definitely time well spent!
Do you keep a food journal? Would you consider using one? Why or why not?
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