Food journalling tips that can help with weight goals
Keeping a food journal can be an awesome way to analyse your food habits.
It can be very eye-opening going through the process of writing down every little bite — it takes time, energy and a willingness to be truly honest with yourself.
Food journalling is a great tool to provide insight into what foods you are actually consuming. So many of us eat mindlessly — especially when we're on the go or in front of the computer or TV. By recording everything, you are forced to really think about what you are putting into your mouth.
Recording your intake can be helpful by not only showing you what you're eating, but also the positive changes you could be making. Food logging definitely isn't for everyone, and it doesn’t have to be long term. However, it can be a great way to get a handle on your dietary goals. Here are a few tips to get you started:
What’s the point of recording if you are not going to be honest? I believe that honesty is the first rule to recording. It's only effective when you're truthful with yourself.
If you ate a large bag of fries, don't log a smaller amount — you are only cheating yourself. Food logging should include the good, the bad and all the in between. When you only write down the healthy things you eat it defeats the purpose.
Track drinks, too
Remember to document all beverages, including alcoholic ones, as those calories can add up. It’s important to remember that your morning frappuccino or late-night glass of wine count and, unfortunately, don't add a ton of nutritional value.
Don’t forget your emotions
If you are an emotional eater, this aspect of a food diary can be seriously eye-opening. I like to have my clients consider why they are eating. Are they really hungry or are they just bored? Or anxious? If they are not hungry I encourage them to try and examine their emotions, without food. Call a friend, complete a puzzle, go for a walk or run; have a glass of flavoured water.
Recording the times that you eat can provide great insight. It really helps to see how long you go between your meals. Sometimes, overeating is caused by having long gaps between meals, with no snacks. Taking note of when you eat can also help to see if you're eating too frequently, when you're not really hungry.
Recording portion sizes is a major key in using a food journal efficiently. People tend to under-report the portion sizes they actually consume, which can then cause an incorrect assessment of caloric intake. To understand portion sizes take out your scale and measuring cups. If you think you are eating a cup of granola for breakfast, pour what you would normally eat, then put it in the measuring cup to see how accurate you were. Our rough guesses are not always what we think they are.
Don’t get discouraged
Food diaries can be overwhelming — and even shocking — when you see how much you've really been consuming. Once you have a better understanding of your habits, make change slowly; pick one area at a time to work on. If you have been snacking on too many chips, for example, start by replacing them with something healthier. Focus on that for a week. Then the next week, add in another goal such as adding more protein to your meals. Small attainable goals are the way to go.
Don’t stress, start your food diary today and B-Active For Life!
• Betty Doyling is a certified fitness trainer and figure competitor with more than a decade of experience. Look for B. ActiveForLife on Facebook