Several celebrities have credited their weightloss to keeping a food journal, a la Carrie Underwood. Carrie also says she awards herself like a kindergartener. I think that’s genius!
While I’m not a big fan of following celebrity diets and “health” trends, I AM a big fan of accountability and the food journal is one the best. I started keeping one in October 2010 when I joined a local bootcamp program. Before then I had dabbled with the idea keeping one for a few days here and there. It was incredibly hard to get into for several reasons: time, how do you quantify what you eat, what will people think of me, I hate to be reminded that I just had cake, etc. Here are some lessons that I’ve learned that have helped me conquer the food journal.
1. Take it with you. Find a journal that’s small and portable. Either find one that’s the size of your palm and can fit in ANY purse or start keeping track on your smart phone. There are also a lot of online sites (I’ve tried Self.com’s) but I couldn’t use it consistently because I’d forget to log a meal. Keeping a portable food journal allows you to keep record of what you eat right after the meal so it’s more accurate. Also, choose a journal that you LIKE. Mine is a nice blue leather bound journal. Maybe yours needs sequins on it for you to carry it around?
2. Be specific. A bowl of cereal could mean 3 cups of cereal vs 1 cup. There’s a big discrepancy in the calories. It’ll be helpful when you go back and review your journal when you’re wondering why you’re gaining weight 🙂 Also write down the time, drinks, condiments- everything you put in your mouth adds up. Even if you have a tiny Hershey’s kiss! Some even go as far as writing down the emotion behind why they ate it- “you were bored”; “PMS” ; “holiday.” This takes some extra effort but the more specific you are, the easier it is to identify later why you are consistently making poor choices.
3. Write goals. Just like writing resolutions, review your food log every so often and write new goals each week, month, and year. It’ll help you stay focused. Maybe use stickers like Carrie Underwood. Or maybe add pictures of your changing body.
4. Be Honest. Commit to being honest with your food journal. You may not want to tell your friend that you ate an entire cake by yourself, but be honest with your food journal. It can’t judge you. Also, one of the benefits of writing the bad stuff down is that it helps you purge the guilt. Ever feel guilty after eating junk and kick yourself about it forever? Writing in my food journal about my slip ups helps me confront the issue and move on! Be honest with your food journal and it’ll be honest with you.
5. Don’t give up. Once in a while you will fall off the wagon. The important thing is that you keep going. Remember that each meal/snack is a new opportunity to succeed.
Do you keep a food journal? Feel free to share tips.