Keeping a food journal is probably one of the most effective tools to help with weight loss that most of us either avoid or ignore. While yes it may take a little more time to keep one and it is something else carried around during the day, the benefits are quite helpful. Even just writing down the basic what, when, and why for all food consumed helps to make each choice to eat a more conscious decision of what we are eating. Also writing down the why for eating can be helpful in identifying key triggers for eating that may simply be unneeded or unhealthy. Being able to identify these trends in eating allows us to then set up a game plan for healthier foods or if eating for the wrong reasons, finding different coping behaviors or activities when stressed or bored.
Higher levels of food journaling include the measuring of food as well as tracking calories. Measuring the food we eat is important because it gives us a more accurate view on our perceptions of portions, which is important during a weight loss program because our perceptions of portions sizes can get distorted causing our progress to plateau.
Calorie tracking is recommended for anyone that is struggling with weight loss. Weight loss is essentially calories eaten versus calories burned during any period of time. It is difficult to break through a plateau without knowing where one of these important variables are really at. Before changing anything else you should know where your calorie levels are at. For example, if your workout commitments are already maximal, it is not worth trying to find more time or overcomplicating the workout when there could easily be changes made in caloric intake.
For basic food journaling just a simple note pad and writing utensil is needed. The note pad doesn’t have to be a huge item, it can be small enough to fit in a pocket. For more advanced journaling a bigger notebook may be needed, but there are also applications available on most smart phones that can actually calculate the calories if the food has already been measured. Also there online programs that can calculate the calories, but remember keeping a food journal throughout the day is still recommended to help with conscious decision making with our food choices.