When I first heard of this idea, I thought keeping a food journal was a bit obsessive, because you are supposed to write down everything you eat or drink. Some electronic journals even have calorie counters so that you know how many calories you're consuming daily. Eat two grapes, record it; drink two coffees, record that. Put cream in your coffee? Record how much.
What I learned this week is that food diaries or journals may actually help you achieve your weight loss goals faster. If you choose to do it the old-fashioned way — writing down what you eat in a daily planner or a notebook — you can see how much you consume a day. You may even find you can change around some of the things you eat and notice patterns.
For example, I found that I eat a breakfast rich in carbohydrates almost every day when I actually saw in writing what I ate. Thus, I tried to eat a protein-rich breakfast at least every other day this week. I also thought back to what I ate a few nights ago and found I ate a lot of fruits in the evening, rich in natural sugar. That's a lot of sugar in the evening, when it's close to bedtime and you're less likely to burn it off! So for the nights after that, I substituted my evening fruit fest with herbal teas or even by getting my fruit fix a bit earlier in the day.
Writing down everything I drank also meant I kept track of my water intake. In all my research on weight loss, I always read that water is key and that drinking at least eight glasses a day is essential. No surprise, I realized I was drinking only five glasses of water at most, so I tried to incorporate water more often throughout my day. Not only did the right amount of water keep me feeling fuller, but I also felt more refreshed and relaxed.
Some smartphone apps can help you count calories as well as record what you eat, and websites like FitDay.com give you free food journals you can keep. One thing I learned about keeping a proper food journal is that you have to be diligent about recording everything. I found it got a bit mundane and repetitive, and I even caught myself thinking about quitting the food journal.
Another thing — and perhaps more important than being diligent — is that you have to be honest! The "two to five bites of chocolate cake" needs to be recorded, and the couple of chips here and there need to be accounted for! If you cheat on your food journal, you are only cheating yourself.
I'm going to attempt to continue keeping this food journal, and hope to see results in the next few weeks. Try it with me! If you really find you can't keep up with a food journal, always go back to this basic rule: Balance is the key, and everything in moderation!
Now I'm off to eat some lunch, my notebook in hand. Until next week!
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