Fitness Trail: Food journaling works
The Fitness Trail
Throughout the past three-plus decades of coaching/teaching/training, I have been asked hundreds of times what “system” is the most successful in terms of long term weight management. And, the simple answer has really not changed—set/adhere to S.M.A.R.T. (i.e. specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) written goals, exercise consistently, practice moderation with your eating regimen and keep a food journal. The act of writing down in detail every morsel you place into your mouth has a profound and positive impact on achieving your short and long-term weight management goals.
Those that consistently maintain written records may adhere to their goals and achieve the results they seek more frequently than those that do not. Why? Read ahead as these effective adherence and results-oriented strategies are highlighted. As always, prior to beginning any exercise/nutrition program, please consult your physician.
Food journals work:
Food journals are a history of our eating experiences including both qualitative and quantitative information which may help direct us throughout our lives—not just when attempting to drop a few pounds.
Set your S.M.A.R.T. goals and record that information into your journal so you will know exactly what your daily caloric input requirements must be to reach your goals. If you are not achieving your goals, reassess and reestablish goals that are attainable for you.
The key when developing a food journal is to be honest, specific and consistent with your recording of this data.
As with exercise logs, there are programs or applications that you may access on-line or via your cell phone; however, a spiral notebook works just fine. What matters the most is to set yourself up for success by creating a system of recording that works specifically for you.
Keep your food journal with you at all times if possible as you will consume food throughout the day and may forget the exact details. *This is where the phone applications are helpful as you may even scan in the portion sizes, etc.
Since details are critical when recording your consumption in the journal, it is important to determine the type of food, portion size/quantity/caloric value/how it was prepared and then record that information accurately. This also may identify nutrient and energy imbalances so you may address those accordingly.
When recording, divide the day into meals, even if you are consuming smaller meals (i.e. healthy snacks), as this may target problem areas and those challenging times of day when it is more difficult to manage your input.
The small things matter—record every morsel. That is one of the fantastic aspects of food journaling, it keeps you aware and accountable for the food you input.
Food consumption includes all beverages.
Also, record how you feel each day and how you feel about the food you are consuming daily. This is important qualitative information as it may explain the food choices you are making. If you are feeling a little blue or ill, on these days the data may not be an accurate reflection of what you consume regularly. Making a note of this identifies those inevitable ups/downs and may help you to avoid those peaks and valleys in the future.
Record any events/vacations and make note of your eating behaviors on those days identifying potential issues negatively impacting your success.
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