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Food journaling is one of the best ways to look at your food intake. Food can be emotional–comforting, social, fun, etc. When you’re serious about losing weight or keeping it off, disassociating emotions from eating will allow you to have perspective on what you’re actually putting in your body. It may feel nice to eat a Big Mac after a night out with friends, but if you start to notice that you’re eating Big Macs four days a week then you probably won’t feel so nice about it anymore. That leads me to my next point…
Because it totally sucks to write down and then see in print that you’ve eaten four Big Macs in a week, you’ll be less likely to repeat the same habit the following week. That’s mostly why food journaling is such an effective practice: you’re changing long term behaviors and habits.
Effective food journaling requires you to write everything down. I really mean everything. Important things to include are the meal or snack’s portion size/calorie count and time of day it was eaten. Also list the food group of each meal or snack (grain, veggie, fruit, etc), the nutrient group (carb, protein, fat) and the physical activity you did that day. Liquids are also included in this. Get into the habit of writing down what you consume right after you consume it. That way you can be as specific and thorough as possible.
Because you have to be committed to food journaling, you then have amazing documentation of your daily input, and you can see where your dietary holes lie. Maybe you need to substitute a few grains for veggies. Maybe you need to replace some alcoholic drinks with waters a few times a week. Yes, it seems like a lot of work, but, just like with your body’s energy and physique, you get out what you put in.
- Get a journal or an app so all of your days can be in one place. You can organize it however you like so it’s easy and convenient for you to use. As someone who’s always loved writing things down and having a hard copy, the journal is the method I use since I can make it entirely my own and don’t have to fit into an app’s framework. For the tech lovers out there, here are a list of good apps.
Livestrong My Plate
- Liquids count! Imagine if you didn’t write down every coffee, tea, smoothie or glass of wine you had all week. There would be a lot of calories unaccounted for.
- Though I said earlier that food journaling is a good tool to take the emotions out of eating, I recommend noting your energy level throughout the day. If a certain healthy meal made you feel energized and ready for what the rest of the day had in store, make note and repeat that habit. If a large coffee toward the end of the day made you feel jittery and ruined your sleep schedule for that night, make note and simply reposition that large coffee for earlier in the day (if you even feel you need it.)
Use this personalized tool to not only make you look great but also feel great. Your body and energy will thank you for it!
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