Today's busy, on-the-go culture takes it toll on everything from our schedules to our waistlines; between eating on the run and snacking, it's all too easy to consume excess calories without even knowing it. This is where a weight loss journal can be your greatest ally in fighting the battle of the bulge.
Experts agree awareness is a key factor in understanding the relationship between your eating habits and weight loss goals. A weight loss journal is the easiest way to monitor what you're eating; by keeping a written record of your food choices and eating behavior you can evaluate your diet and identify problematic habits such as overeating or relying on food to cope with stress.
Many people think that keeping a weight loss journal means spending hours looking up, recording and counting calories. Not so! Simply writing down what you're eating, how much you're eating and any important comments e.g. 'wasn't hungry, munched while watching TV,' which says quite a lot about your attitude towards food.
Begin by recording everything you eat and drink. Don't worry about looking up all the calories, but be specific! Don't just write 'omelette' for breakfast; record how many eggs you used and any other ingredients you put in. For example, 'four egg omelette with one half cup cheddar cheese and diced onion.'
Not only does this help you when trying to incorporate healthier substitutes into your diet (such as using egg whites or egg substitutes along with low-fat cheese and adding a cup of diced broccoli), but it allows you to monitor your portion sizes, an area where the most astute dieter can slip up.
Beverages need to go into the journal. Be sure to specify 'four cans of Coke' or 'black coffee.' Again, it helps you figure out healthier diet choices in the long run. If you're drinking whole milk lattes every day, it can be a wise decision to turn to skim milk or better yet, reach for filter coffee with a dash of flavored syrup.
A weight loss journal is an eye-opener for determining whether or not you're changing your food habits enough to make a difference in your waistline; it also lets you keep accurate track of how many vitamins and minerals you're including in your diet. For example, if you notice a pattern of eating dairy, you don't have to prioritize adding calcium into your diet. Your journal can even help you 'cheat' for the day; if you maintain a day's worth of healthful, low-calorie eating you can easily reward yourself with a fat-free Fudgesicle for dessert.
Sometimes it's all too tempting to 'cheat' in your journal and 'neglect' to add in that cookie you had at work. To stop yourself from doing so, get into the habit of writing down everything you eat and drink as soon as you finish it. Attention to accuracy and detail is important; just because you don't write it down doesn't mean you didn't eat it. Don't worry, you don't have to share your weight loss journal with anyone, it can be your private aid.