Food Journaling for Weight Loss

Perhaps you’ve heard the old joke that calories don’t count when no one sees you eat them. While we may sagely agree that this is nonsense, we do sometimes live as if it is true. We grab free food samples while shopping, eat some of the kids’ leftovers, or sneak a snack in the office break room. And those don’t really count, right?

Write it Down, Drop the Pounds

You may not be counting the extra calories, but they will show up eventually. If you really want the scale to budge, you need to eat mindfully and be aware of everything you consume. Diet coaches often encourage their clients to create a food journal, because it helps to create accountability and reveal weak areas. When you see your daily record of consumption in black and white you may be surprised at how much you are really eating. And if you know you have to confess to eating something unhealthy — even to yourself — you might be motivated to resist the temptation. Here are tips to help you start journaling.

1. Keep it With You

Don’t try to remember everything and write it down at the end of the day. Use a journal you can keep handy. If you have a tablet or smart phone, keep your notes in a digital log. There are apps to help you count calories and monitor your intake of food, so take advantage of technology.

2. Be Specific

Say what you ate and how much. Don’t just write down “sandwich.” Record as much information as you can, such as “grilled chicken breast sandwich on whole wheat with mustard and 10 baby carrots.”

3. Add Context

Jot down your mood or the situation so you can identify unhealthy trends and make a change for the better. If you know you reach for a bag of chips when you are stressed, you can avoid the temptation next time.

4. Be Honest

You may be tempted to fudge the truth, especially if you end up eating too much fudge! But keeping yourself accountable means being honest. The embarrassment of admitting to binges or slip-ups can be a way to incur positive changes. And tracking exactly what you eat and why gives you the tools you need to change your diet.

Bonus: Diet Humor

Burn off a few extra calories as you chuckle over these myths about what constitutes a calorie-free food:

  1. Anything tasted while cooking.
  2. Anything eaten from someone else’s plate.
  3. Food eaten off the floor within 3 seconds.
  4. Food eaten on the date of expiration to avoid waste.
  5. Anything eaten on a birthday, yours or someone else’s.
  6. Foods that you’ve never had before, especially if you don’t recognize it or can’t pronounce it.
  7. Anything you can consume through a straw.
  8. The last item or bite on any plate.
  9. And finally, if you feel sufficiently guilty, you burn off the calories of any “bad” food eaten.