Many experts and nutritionists encourage people to keep a food journal when they are trying to lose weight. There are so many tools out there like FitBit, My Fitness Pal and the Lose It app to use as mobile or online food journals. Unfortunately, most people understand this to mean keeping obsessive count of calories and using the journal to prove how they lack any self-control in keeping to health eating habits. However, a food journal can be one of the most positive tools for change in your life in terms of your daily diet and other areas like stress eating. You will be surprised to learn how much of your actions and reactions in daily life are food centered or affect your eating. The more you begin to pay attention to the details of your eating habits, the better you will be able to understand your motivations and stressors that affect emotional eating. You will also see the things you need to stop eating. The following are 5 reasons you should start a food journal for weight loss.
Reason # 1 – Keeping Track
A common saying is that weight loss is 70% diet and 30% exercise. A better way at looking at it is wellness is 60% diet, 25% exercise and 15% self-care habits. A self-care habits include things like how much sleep you get and how regular it is, what you do for fun and social activities and things that affect your mental health. All of these things will influence your ability to keep to a healthy eating and exercise plan. In your food journal, track the foods you eat and their calories, but also keep track of your exercises, moods and self-care habits. The goal is to create a food journal for weight loss that also provides you with insight to your whole life.
Reason # 2 – Understanding Habits
Review your food journal every week and look for patterns. If you see that you easily keep to your healthy habits for most of the week, good for you. Most people will find opportunities to change for the good. Chances are you will discover that you are becoming unbalanced in another area of your life or dealing with social or work stresses that cause you too seek relief from through food. It can also be that social events make make it easy to abandon to your diet disciplines. A night out with friends can mean bar food or dinner at a buffet which never makes weight loss easy. Figure out what is surrounding the choice you make to not stick to your diet goals. Habits = What you do daily = lifestyle.
Reason # 3 –Changing the Habit
To make a food journal effective for weight loss, you have to take your understanding about what influences your choices not to follow your diet and work to change your habits. The key to this is to start small. One of the best things to try is the 20 minute rule. Wherever you are, and whoever you are with, the rule is that you get to eat what is on your plate but then you have to wait 20 minutes before having anything else. It takes 20 minutes for the body to register that it is full, so give yourself time. Another good habit to get into is to check out the menu for where you are going to go eat online first. Pick some healthier choices so you have them in mind before you get there. It will be easier to stick to your diet when you are hungry if you have already made a decision about food choices when you are not.
Reason # 4 – Discover What You Don’t Eat
Another good reason to start a food journal for weight loss is it will reveal what you don’t eat. People can overemphasize calorie counting and miss the fact that they are nutritionally deprived. One of the leading culprits of this are the 100 calorie snack packages. They make for easy recording in your journal and can help you maintain your calorie goal, but look at what they contain to see if there is enough nutrition in it. Make it a goal for the next week to add in more calories from the foods that are missing to bring more balance into your diet. Focus on fiber, vitamins and nutrients like protein.
Reason # 5 – Creating Positive Power
The most powerful reason to start a food journal for weight loss is that losing weight is a long and difficult road. While you may see rapid and visible loss in the beginning, as you begin to get down to the fats that are harder to shed, keeping up your motivation can be hard. Use your food journal to create positive reinforcement by showing yourself all the times you make right choices, and how far you have come.