The Power of the Food Journal
Talk about the power of the pen: People who keep a food diary lose twice as much weight as those who don’t, according to a 2008 study published by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Here are some common mistakes that could be holding you back from greater weight loss.
Neglecting to List Portion Sizes
You’ve documented everything that goes into your mouth but haven’t lost a pound. It might be because you failed to mention you ate three handfuls of peanuts—not one—right before lunch. The problem isn’t always eating too much, either. When you record the quantities of food you consume, you’re more likely to notice if having a small breakfast leads to overdoing it at dinnertime (or what have you).
Only Writing Down Your Food
There’s a reason they call it emotional eating—but most people don’t think to include that fight they had with their partner right before dinner. Recording how you feel when you eat certain things can help you spot your emotional eating triggers.
Leaving Out How You Felt After You Ate
Refraining from picking up that last piece of fried chicken might be easier if you had written down how you felt the last time you ate too much of it. It’s important to keep track of your body’s response to certain foods so you know which to avoid—or eat less of—to feel your best.
Beware of Common Obstacles
Are you embarrassed or ashamed about your eating? Do you have a sense of hopelessness, feeling that it won’t help to fill out a food diary or that weight loss is impossible for you? Does it seem too inconvenient to write down what you eat/drink? Do you feel bad when you “slip up”? These are the four most common obstacles to keeping a food diary. All of these obstacles can be overcome by remembering the usefulness of the diaries, not trying to be perfect, acknowledging that slips will happen, and staying motivated to use tools that promote health and well-being.
Review What You Wrote
Food diaries are most helpful when you look back and review what you wrote. Reviewing your journal with your consultant is one of the key elements in your success. Reviewing your food journal shouldn’t be thought of as having your homework graded or passing judgement on your actions. Rather, think of your food journal as a crucial tool in determining your specific habits and learning about emotional triggers or etc. Keeping and reviewing your food journal will ensure success in reaching and maintaining your goals.
Sources: WebMD.com and Prevention.com