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Old 02-24-2008, 04:40 PM   #1
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Default A question for those who used to, or even still, keep food diaries

I used to swear by my food diary, but I have noticed for the past few months I have become lazy when writing things down. I will start out strong in the morning, write down my breakfast, but then it goes downhill. If I have been a good boy, and I wanna prove something to myself, I write down EVERYTHING. If I have been a bad boy, and overdid dinner (MAJOR PROBLEM for me), I will neglect the diary, and start again the next day. Because of my weird work/eating schedule, I rarely right down what I ate on the weekends.

My question is, do you maintainers that kept a diary still write everything down? Is it just a phase when you first started to diet, to keep a better control on portions? How long have you kept your diary? Any advice/motivation you can offer me to keep on track?

I am realizing my dinner overeating can be based on eating out of boredom (best to keep the naughties out of the house!) I don't write down moods. Should I? That just seems a tad embarrassing to me to do that. But I guess if it helps, maybe it will be therapeutic? Do you writer-downers include moods?

When I am a good boy, I can limit my calories to 2100. When bad, it can be up to 3500. I know I am making excuses at this point, but I honestly don't feel bad when I do 3500
  1. It's a far cry from my previous lifestyle of probably 10,000
  2. I work out intensely at the gym, my body needs that "energy"
  3. My BMR was calculated at the college to be about 3200 calories a day

I just feel bad...somewhat depressed when a seamingly good day ends in a 1,000 calorie dinner.

I know what I need to do, and I do do it: Drink water when "hungry", eat snacks regularly (I pack an apple and orange, and a protein bar to have on my breaks at work).

Anyways. Should I continue to keep a diary, until the day I die? Or is it "ok" to stop, and just mentally watch the portions? I did go back to meal planning last week, and wrote down a menu for the week, complete with all the nutritional info. Typed it up into MS Word. Just never transferred the results to my diary. When I kept to it, I was able to limit myself to 1600 calories. Perhaps weekly meal planning would work better for me at this stage?

Sorry for the loaded question. I am just having a guilt-trip right now about things
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Old 02-24-2008, 04:57 PM   #2
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I still keep a food diary, and plan all my meals ahead. It was not planning that brought me to 204 pounds.I am in maintenance, now and still plan ahead and log every bite. I don't want to gain it back.
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Old 02-24-2008, 05:02 PM   #3
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Thank you for the encouragement. Do you write things down 7 days a week? Do you write down as soon as you eat, or wait till the end of the day? What I will do, if I have something I typically don't normally have (a candy bar for instance), I will cut out the nutritional label, and put it in my pocket, so I have the numbers readily available
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Old 02-24-2008, 05:40 PM   #4
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I started on my last diet on June 1, 2001 and discovered Fitday on June 8, 2001 (gosh, I just went back and read that very first entry! I had Kashi Good Friends, a Wendy's grilled chicken sandwich, and shrimp with pasta for dinner, coming in at 1473 calories). I've been a dedicated Fitday user since then and have an entry for almost every day for the past 6 1/2 years. (do you think that's a 3FC record?? )

So yes, I journaled and still do. These days I use it more as a planning tool than for writing down what I've eaten after the fact. Typically I'll sit down in the computer first thing in the morning and enter my meals for the day to make sure I'm where I want to be, calorie-wise. If things change during the day, sometimes I update and sometimes I don't. But since I know the calories in everything I eat, it's OK.

If I find myself slacking, like during holidays, it's never a good sign! It means that I'm not putting effort into planning meals in advance, which is critical for my success.

Whether you should keep your diary until the day you die, I think is totally up to you. Some people do just fine keeping a running tally of calories in their heads. Some write down what they eat after the fact to be accountable. Others use a diary to preplan, like I do. It's just a tool and if you can maintain without using it, then why bother? But if you find yourself going off-track when you're not writing your food down, then I think you have your answer.

BTW, I think a lot of us run into trouble at the end of the day, like you do with dinner. It's when we're tired, willpower is low, and we all want a reward for surviving another long day. Have you tried preplanning your meal and prepping it all in advance, so that all you have to do is heat and eat? Making it mindless?
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Old 02-24-2008, 05:55 PM   #5
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Hi Dude,

I record my food once every morning for the previous day, when I record my weight and steps from my pedometer. I don't convert them into calories - just note that I ate on plan or ate over as approximated by portion size and feeling mildly full, rather than full, or stuffed. I record a bit about mood only if I've over eaten and wish to note that I was snookered by FREE food samples at Whole Foods, or a big family event, or just desire for something.

I've only been doing this for about four months - since I've been on the Beck Diet Solution which I started when I had been at my maintenance weight for about seven months. Don't yet know if this is part of my permanent maintenance regime or whether I'll declare myself done. Doing this forever certainly seems like a bore, but the statistics for regaining weight seriously frighten me and I don't read any long term maintainers here on 3FC who've slacked off. I'm hoping that the tools of the Beck Diet Solution give me an edge for life, but I carry that dirty thought in the back of my head that it shouldn't take so much time to live a healthy life. Using Beck's terminology:
Sabotaging Thought: At 29 months into my journey, I can cut myself a little slack now.
Helpful Response: You've found VERY few people who've lost major weight and kept it off for years. All of those on 3FC continue to work at the same level as losing weight. Keep on trucking.
Beck, however, suggests that planning and monitoring can be reduced from the daily activity of the six week program, to wit:
Quote:
Do these activities as often as needed (once a day, once a week, or less often, but certainly whenever you're in danger of straying from your diet):Beck, pg 262.
Eventually I'll reduce my recording to weekly, unless I hit my red line weight and switch back to daily until back in line and then for a few weeks after that.

I do admire the amazing loss you've achieved and hope to watch you maintaining for the next 40 years or so.

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Old 02-24-2008, 06:04 PM   #6
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FresnoBee, I plan my meals for the day in advance. I plan the days menu , 3 meals and snacks, and check them off as I eat them, this way I don't forget a meal or even worse eat one twice.I usually do it in the evening for the following day, it takes me about 5 minutes, I usually stick to my plan, but can make changes as the need arises. I just remember to stay in my alloted calories for the day.I do plan to continue because I know what will happen if I don't.
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Old 02-24-2008, 06:05 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Meg View Post
I started on my last diet on June 1, 2001 and discovered Fitday on June 8, 2001 (gosh, I just went back and read that very first entry! I had Kashi Good Friends, a Wendy's grilled chicken sandwich, and shrimp with pasta for dinner, coming in at 1473 calories). I've been a dedicated Fitday user since then and have an entry for almost every day for the past 6 1/2 years. (do you think that's a 3FC record?? )

So yes, I journaled and still do. These days I use it more as a planning tool than for writing down what I've eaten after the fact. Typically I'll sit down in the computer first thing in the morning and enter my meals for the day to make sure I'm where I want to be, calorie-wise. If things change during the day, sometimes I update and sometimes I don't. But since I know the calories in everything I eat, it's OK.

If I find myself slacking, like during holidays, it's never a good sign! It means that I'm not putting effort into planning meals in advance, which is critical for my success.

Whether you should keep your diary until the day you die, I think is totally up to you. Some people do just fine keeping a running tally of calories in their heads. Some write down what they eat after the fact to be accountable. Others use a diary to preplan, like I do. It's just a tool and if you can maintain without using it, then why bother? But if you find yourself going off-track when you're not writing your food down, then I think you have your answer.

BTW, I think a lot of us run into trouble at the end of the day, like you do with dinner. It's when we're tired, willpower is low, and we all want a reward for surviving another long day. Have you tried preplanning your meal and prepping it all in advance, so that all you have to do is heat and eat? Making it mindless?
As for your last suggestion. A year or so ago, I bought a diabetic cookbook for crockpots (Fix it and Forget it). Gave me about 10 nights of meals. Would prepare, then immediatly portion it out to 10 servings, then store in the freezer. I know I am just making excuses at this point, but I don't honestly have the time in the day to pre-prep. But I do need to evaluate what it is I am doing wrong, and try to fix it. Like keep that naughties out of the house!
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Old 02-24-2008, 06:08 PM   #8
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When I first started eating better, I started by counting the number of super foods I ate per day. After awhile, I added Fitday to get a better idea of what I was really eating. I had a love/hate relationship with Fitday. I loved being exact, I hated having to enter custom recipes (which was a huge hassle since I love to cook and a lot of my foods were home-made and had to be entered manually the first time).

Even after maintenance, I used Fitday for a long time – finally, I just got fed up with all the manual entries. I still love to food journal, so now I just use 3FatChicks to record the food I eat everyday. I still estimate calories in my head everyday. It’s pretty easy – I eat a lot of the same foods and my breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack are pretty much the same calories (most of my breakfasts are 300, for example) so they tend to be interchangeable for counting purposes.

I don’t mind food journaling, it keeps me accountable. I have to be TRUE and HONEST and UNFLINCHING about what I eat – in the past, I started slipping, ignoring and BOOM I got heavy again. I plan to stay mindful of what I eat – forever, it only takes me 2-3 minutes a day to post here. Plus, it does help me when I know that other people will see it (not that anyone cares, really) it’s a personal accountability.

I usually post in the middle of the day – during lunch. My dinners are planned out, so I can easily post what I plan to eat for dinner. If anything changes, I go back and edit the next day when I’m posting the next day’s menu.

If I didn’t have a label handy (back in my Fitday days) it was pretty easy to estimate, or find the product info online. Keeping the labels is good too, I did that every now and then.

If you are unhappy because your dinners are 1000 calories higher than you would like, definitely consider planning and then eating what you’ve planned. Make a huge pot of soup or pasta sauce in advance and have it ready when you get home!

I stay motivated because I know I have to be accountable – in the past, I always just started turning a blind eye to my eating habits – deliberately putting my head in the sand, I didn’t want to KNOW or FACE what I was doing and I always gained the weight back. This time – I am resolved to be honest about what I eat.
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Old 02-24-2008, 06:11 PM   #9
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As for your last suggestion. A year or so ago, I bought a diabetic cookbook for crockpots (Fix it and Forget it). Gave me about 10 nights of meals. Would prepare, then intimidated portion it out to 10 servings, then store in the freezer. I know I am just making excuses at this point, but I don't honestly have the time in the day to pre-prep. But I do need to evaluate what it is I am doing wrong, and try to fix it. Like keep that naughties out of the house!
Definitely keep bad things out of the house if they tempt you and you can't eat them in moderate portions. I have a lot of trigger foods and I don't bring ANY in the house EVER.

If you don't have time everyday to prep dinner, do you have time one day a week? On Sundays, I do all my meal planning, find recipes, go to the grocery store, baggie up veggies for snacks, pack my salads for lunch. All together it takes a couple of hours, but it saves me a lot of pain and anguish and hardship over my food choices - I made all the choices when I wasn't hungry or bored, I made all the choices with my best interests in mind. It is time extremely well spent. I turn on the TV (that I can see from the kitchen) and just do it.
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Old 02-24-2008, 09:14 PM   #10
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I'm still early in my journey, but I log everything. I almost always plan tomorrow's meals in the late evening. Sometimes I might change the evening meal, and the late night snack, but the bulk of what I eat the next day is planned.

I know from the past that when I stop planning is when I run into trouble. I do calorie counts for all new recipes, so I control that evening meal. I'm even probably okay with not logging every day, but I do it. I think I'll do it for a long time. Like others have mentioned, it's not planning what I eat for the day that got me in trouble in the first place.

Planning is not deciding which fast food joint I was going to hit on the way home....
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Old 02-27-2008, 08:41 AM   #11
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I decided to go back to weekly meal planning. It takes me about an hour to come up with the menu's (basically same stuff every day, will change it next week), and to crunch all the numbers. I came up with the following:

1766.18 calories (1800-2000 is goal)
30.93g fat (60 is goal)
226.3g total carbs (200-250 is goal)
37.9g fiber (50 is goal)
111.28g protein (150 is goal)
2878.28mg sodium (egads less then 2400 is goal - my 100oz of water daily should fix that)

Sodium is high, because as a busy bachelor I am depending on processed food (Weight Watchers and Lean Cuisine microwaveable meals).

Last week, minus a bad weekend I basically stuck to my planner. Now I have an idea. If I throw in a little something, or substitute something for another, I can quickly write everything down in my diary.

These are the personal goals I set for myself. My next question is for those who workout. Should I up my intake on intense workout days, or just stick with my planner (and deal with hunger pangs?).

Someone asked in the 100lb club about motivation. I was weighed in at my doctor's appointment Monday. I gained 5.6lbs in 6 weeks. I need to drop this last 35lbs. I am more then determined now to do so. Like I said, I know what I need to do, I just need to do it!
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Old 02-27-2008, 09:25 AM   #12
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As for your last suggestion. A year or so ago, I bought a diabetic cookbook for crockpots (Fix it and Forget it). Gave me about 10 nights of meals. Would prepare, then immediatly portion it out to 10 servings, then store in the freezer. I know I am just making excuses at this point, but I don't honestly have the time in the day to pre-prep. But I do need to evaluate what it is I am doing wrong, and try to fix it. Like keep that naughties out of the house!
Fresnobeedude, you need to FIND some time to eat healthily. If losing this last 35 lbs, and keeping it off, is truly important to you, you need to MAKE the time. You say that you know you are making excuses. STOP. IT. NOW.

This doesn't mean hours and hours of cooking a day. You're only cooking for yourself, fine, you're largely dependent on pre-packaged stuff, ok. I work M-F and don't have as much time during the week, so Sundays I cut up carrots, celery, cucumbers, broccoli, etc. etc. and package it into tupperwares for lunch every day. When I make a salad, I go ahead and make salads for a few days. I cut up fruit, make a batch of protein muffins if I'm out. I'm sometimes involved in local community theater and those weeks, I will cook a meal Sat. or Sun. and put leftovers in the dinner-compartmentalized tupperwares, complete w/ veggie sides, b/c I know my life will be crazy during the week and I won't have time to do it. Every morning when I leave the house I grab my tupperwares of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. If I need to I bring an ice pack for my little cooler that often rides shotgun in my car all day. I also have a (admittedly shorter) mental list of things I can buy at a convenience store, or a subway meal, in a pinch to get me through a meal or snack - protein bars, fresh fruit, veggies if they have them (definitely depends on the convenience store!), string cheese, etc.

I don't know your work or personal schedule, and I certainly don't mean to trivialize it, but I'm just trying to encourage you to find that day of the week when you aren't as busy and prep extra food for the rest of the week. Prep dinner for a few weeks if you have a day off - use your freezer. And as you say, if you eat frozen meals, frozen veggies and even frozen fruits can make a healthy, complete meal.

Oh, wait, that wasn't your original question... I do log my food, every day. Since I don't have reliable internet at home, I write it down and then log it in fitday every day or two when I do get to a computer. When I'm off plan, it's so hard for me to face my food journal (even though it's just a piece of paper or a computer screen, not a person). But writing down what I've written seems to have some sort of therapeutic effect - writing it down means I'm ready to start eating back OP when I slip. I need to own up to what I've eaten. If I've eaten a half pan of brownies, I need to write it down, to see that those calories somehow didn't magically disappear b/c I ate them standing up, or really fast, or whatever excuse I'd like to use. I've been writing it all down for almost 4 years and have no plans to stop. I do know there are people here who don't use a food log, at least not daily, and are able to maintain their loss. I think that if you find a system that works for you, fine. As long as you stick to it and it's working.

About working out - I do try to cycle my calories a bit, and I definitely try to plan lower cal days on my "rest day" or two a week, higher cal days when I'm going to try and run a lot. The most important part for me is to have a substantial enough snack or meal allotted for within an hour or two of working out, b/c I get so hungry after working out. This means saving enough calories to eat after I work out. It's a bit of a balancing act when you're trying to cut calories enough to lose weight, too - takes some tweaking, but you will figure out what works for your body.

You can do it! Keep posting to let us know how that last 35 is coming.
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Old 02-27-2008, 10:17 PM   #13
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I log everything I eat every day. The only exception is when I am on vacation or traveling and am off-plan. I've been doing this since day 1 of my diet, back in November 2005. I have no plans to stop any time soon. Maybe after I've been maintaining for several years, I won't feel like I have to write it all down, but I don't see that day coming anytime soon.

When I don't log what I eat, I overeat. If I know I won't be logging what I am eating, I definitely eat more than I would otherwise and I eat stuff I wouldn't normally eat. The logging holds me accountable--if I know I have to log it, I won't eat stuff that isn't in my plan.

Also, I hate to do math in my head the way other people hate to exercise (or hate to log their food). So I usually log all my food for the day when I get to the first snack for which I need to know how many calories I can eat.

I wonder if you are being too restrictive on your good days. If your RMR is at 3200 calories, then it seems like eating 2100 calories (or 1600!) probably isn't enough food for you. This could easily lead to overeating on your "bad" days, or overeating at the end of a long day of depriving yourself. Maybe you should try to bring your good days up a bit and your bad days down a bit, so you are on more of an even keel.
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Old 02-27-2008, 10:57 PM   #14
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FresnoBee, I plan my meals for the day in advance. I plan the days menu , 3 meals and snacks, and check them off as I eat them, this way I don't forget a meal or even worse eat one twice.I usually do it in the evening for the following day, it takes me about 5 minutes, I usually stick to my plan, but can make changes as the need arises. I just remember to stay in my alloted calories for the day.I do plan to continue because I know what will happen if I don't.
This is exactly what I do. I still record every day in fitday.
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Old 02-28-2008, 02:00 AM   #15
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I wonder if you are being too restrictive on your good days. If your RMR is at 3200 calories, then it seems like eating 2100 calories (or 1600!) probably isn't enough food for you. This could easily lead to overeating on your "bad" days, or overeating at the end of a long day of depriving yourself. Maybe you should try to bring your good days up a bit and your bad days down a bit, so you are on more of an even keel.
I thought exactly the same thing.

****, if your eating is out of control, bring your cals up to 3000 and just maintain until you've stopped the cycle of good and bad days. Discipline is important, and sometimes painless, maintenance discipline can get you on the right track for restricting in earnest.

I sorta log. The trouble is that I eat interchangeable breakfasts and lunches, and have a set variety of snacks in the afternoon, so up til dinner, every day is almost the same. Bf and I both know how to make dinner work for our calorie and protein goals, so I kinda don't fuss so much. I've just gained though, so maybe I should stop opining.
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