Meet Sarah, an office worker who is committed to losing weight. Sarah spends a lot of time at work and brings healthy meals each day to ensure she doesn’t go off track. However, her coworkers regularly bring sweets and other treats to the office. Thinking she’ll take “just one piece” every time there’s a treat, Sarah doesn’t believe these small amounts affect her diet. But with treats in the office twice a week, Sarah is consuming an extra 500 calories a week without realizing it.
Others fall victim to similar traps. Consider Judy, the busy working mom who stays on track all day but then picks at her children’s leftovers when clearing up after dinner. When this happens every night, Judy is adding 200 to 300 calories a day to her diet. Or maybe you’re like April, who only drinks one glass of wine a night. However, with at least 120 calories in each glass, that’s an extra 840 calories a week in liquid alone.
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You get the point: it’s easy for calories to sneak into your diet. If all your main meals are healthy, the small “add-ons” between meals are easy to forget. Luckily, keeping a food journal is a simple way to realize when your habits are bumping up your calorie intake.
5 food journaling tips
Food journals work because they keep you accountable and make you aware of where every calorie comes from. However, it’s important that you food journal the “correct” way to enjoy the full range of benefits it has to offer.
Here are 5 simple food journaling tips you should follow:
- Write during the day – don’t wait until the end of the day to write down what you’ve eaten or drunk. It’s easy to forget small items along the way, so you should write them down right away.
- Be mindful of portion size – don’t guess portion sizes when journaling! Invest in scales, measuring cups, and other helpful tools to ensure you aren’t writing down less than what you’re eating.
- Don’t skip indulgent days – if you’re going to have a “cheat day,” you should still write down all your food. This will help you to recognize whether your cheat days are filled with unhealthy foods and large portion sizes, and see where you can take back control to lessen the impact of these days on your general diet.
- Cook at home – the only place where you can control everything that goes into your food is at home! The best way to ensure accuracy in your food journal is to cook all, or most, of your meals at home.
- Write down more than food – if you made a poor eating decision (or even a good decision) based on emotions or external factors, write this down next to the food entry where it happened. This will help you to recognize patterns in your eating that will help you better control your habits down the road.
Take control of your diet with a food journal
Whether you’re Sarah and feel pressured to say yes to coworkers who offer you food, Judy who mindlessly consumes hundreds of calories while cooking and clearing up dinner, or April who doesn’t realize how the calories are adding up, a food journal can help you stay on track.
The five simple tips above will set you up for success and ensure that when you’re ready to lose weight, you have a simple way to track everything that goes into your mouth.