Keeping a food journal is one of the best things you can do to ensure the success of your weight loss plan. After all, you can’t make changes to your diet if you don’t know from where the real problem stems. Writing down everything you eat not only helps you track your calories, it also helps you to see what kinds of foods you’re consuming in excess–and which foods you aren’t eating adequately. It may take time to make keeping a food journal a part of your daily life, but if you follow these tips you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
1. Find a Food Journal Method That Works With Your Lifestyle
A food journal can be as simple as a small notepad you carry around in your purse or as detailed as an online system like those offered for free on many diet and calorie-counting websites, such as FitDay.com. Truly, it all comes down to preference. Choose the version you’re most likely to use every day. If you’re constantly on your Blackberry or iPhone, you’ll probably find an online food journal most convenient. If you find technology complicated or are rarely near a computer or your phone, a nice paper journal is probably a better option. The main thing is to choose a method that you can access at all times.
2. Write Down Every Bite
The only way your food journal is going to work is if you’re diligent and honest. If you shrug off the handful of chips you ate at lunch, you’re not doing yourself any favors. In fact, those handfuls here and there over a year’s time are probably why you can’t shed those last few pounds. You need to write everything down in order to accurately count your calories and see the full picture of the foods you’re consuming. Don’t be worried about what it all looks like at first. In the beginning, you just want to understand the situation. As you move ahead you’ll modify your diet.
3. Review Your Food Journal Weekly
At the end (or beginning) of each week, sit down and look over what you ate over the past seven days and determine what modifications you want to make. Being diligent about writing everything down is the first step–taking time to understand the changes you need to make is the second. Making small modifications at first is what will make you successful. Look to cut back on the handfuls and nibbles here and there.
4. Set Goals
Maintaining a food journal is bound to be more enjoyable if you make a game of it or create challenges for yourself. At the beginning of the week, set a goal like “I’m going to eat three pieces of fruit daily.” Write your goal on your food journal and then highlight each food you eat daily that fits the goal. Not only will it make your diet changes more visible, it’ll keep you motivated to reach your goals.
Above anything else, stick to your journal even if you slip up or forget to fill it out for several days. Practice makes perfect!