Today’s healthy tip: Keep a food journal.
I know, this seems like a big pain the butt, and it kind of is, at least initially. But, it’s incredibly effective, too. In fact, it’s one of the most effective ways to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. If you’re a techno-file, there are all kinds of apps for your Driod, iPhone, or whatever PDA you’ve got.
So, why does this work? Because if you’re not doing it, you have no idea what you’re actually eating; and, believe me, it adds up. A food journal is one way to be accountable. Your choices are there, in black-and-white, staring you in the face. It helps you realize that you didn’t just eat one cookie, you ate one cookie at dinner, one as a snack, some sugar and that CoffeeMate hazelnut creamer in your coffee, just a taste of that birthday cake at the office, that Starbucks’ Double Mocha (skinny, of course) on the way into the office… And, suddenly you’re aware of the several hundred calories a day many of us get and never know it. It’s harder to rationalize just “one small slice” when you have to write it down next to all the other “small” things.
You can count calories in your journal, if you want to. I recommend it as a starting point for at least the first two or three weeks. Once you figure out how much you’re eating, it’s up to you whether ton continue with the calorie counting or just adjusting your eating habits as necessary. But, don’t stop keeping the journal. I recommend also jotting down a quick bit about your daily activities (exercise, etc.), and mood.
Even if you’re not trying to lose weight, a food journal can help you stay on track with healthy eating and exercise. A food journal, in combination with your mood and exercise blurbs, can motivate you to get out and get active, to change up your activities, to make healthier eating choices, and to be aware of how what you eat and what you do affects how you feel. It’s an incredibly useful lifestyle tool all around.
I keep mine on Fitday.com. You can keep yours in hard copy on paper, on your PDA, or online. Whatever works best for you, and makes it the easiest for you to maintain.
- 7 Reasons Why Keeping a Food Journal Helps (dirjournal.com)
- Is your coffee creamer silently killing you? (nutrition.suite101.com)
- How Many Calories Are In That Coffee? (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- Tracking What I Eat (DanielOdio.com)
- Michael A. Snyder, M.D.: Healthy Eating: 10 Tips to Help You Eat Smarter (huffingtonpost.com)