Imagine a free weight loss tool that doubles your chances of taking off pounds. That’s how powerful a food journal can be. Researchers at Kaiser Permanente studied participants in a weight-loss program, and found that those who kept daily food journals lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t.
Of course, keeping a journal does require some time and work. See how these tips can help you stay on track.
Benefits of Keeping a Food Journal
1. Increase your awareness.
A food journal puts an end to mindless snacking. You become more aware of how much you really eat.
2. Resist temptation.
Knowing that you’ll need to jot down those bacon bits on your salad or that extra slice of birthday cake may be all you need to stop you in your tracks. Making nutritious food choices becomes automatic.
3. Increase your knowledge.
Your journal is educational too. You’ll learn about calorie counts, fiber intake, portion sizes, and new recipes. In fact, MyFitness Pal, a popular weight loss app, claims that their users who log recipes lose 40% more weight.
4. Target your efforts.
Once you spot your triggers, you can change them. You’ll notice the times of day when you crave something sweet or your tendency to eat the whole donut when you meant to take just a bite.
5. Eat healthy.
Remember that your food journal can help you do more than take off pounds. You can identify allergies, monitor your blood sugar, or do just about anything that involves food and your overall wellbeing.
How to Keep a Food Journal
1. Act quickly.
Writing your meals and snacks down immediately is ideal. You’re less likely to forget important details.
2. Aim for consistency.
Make entries each day if possible. If you slip once in a while, get back on track as soon as possible. The more weeks and months of data you collect, the more valuable your journal becomes. If the time commitment seems daunting, remember that you’ll probably get faster as you go along.
3. Tell the truth.
Be honest even if your lunch consisted entirely of French fries. You can keep the entries for your eyes only if it helps.
4. Be specific. Details matter.
Mention each ingredient in your sandwich. Notice how much cream or sugar you’re adding to your coffee. Pay attention to the calories you drink whether you indulge in pumpkin lattes or margaritas.
5. Look at the big picture.
Your diary can encompass more than food and beverages. Write about your emotions and how they affect your eating. Include information about other relevant factors such as exercise, sleep, and health conditions.
6. Choose your format.
Buy a pretty blank book or use an online template. Maybe you want something that’s easy to tote around or perhaps you prefer to keep it on your nightstand.
7. Take pictures.
Photos make your journal more fun and productive. Include before and after shots of your shrinking waistline. Use images to help you remember and recreate your favorite slimmed-down dishes.
8. Review frequently.
Rereading your diary will help you evaluate your progress and make healthy changes. Looking back gives you a chance to reflect and gather any information you want to share with your doctor or other professionals.
You can also use your diary to chart your future as you think about the next milestone you want to reach.
Keeping track of what you eat is an effective way to lose weight. As long as you’re consistent and accurate about food journaling, an occasional slip won’t stand in the way of your eating healthier and looking slimmer.
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I really wanted to talk about this topic today because the overweight and obesity epidemic is at an all-time high! We are a fat society and it’s killing us prematurely. Not only do I truly believe that you have the power to lose weight to improve your health, but the science also agrees! You can adopt healthy lifestyle practices that improve your health and enrich your life, which can in turn improve the lives of those close to you. You have the power to break the cycle of obesity so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you lose weight, and maybe reverse some of your chronic diseases. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Since weight management is very important in combatting chronic diseases, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor (*this scale cannot be used with a pacemaker or other implanted devices).
Physical activity (or exercise) can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several chronic diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, just to name a few. Physical activity can improve your mood, boost your immune system, and even help you maintain a healthy weight.
I often recommend yoga and resistance training for physical activity, but as you are aware, there are plenty of forms of “movement” that you can do! But for the basics, especially if you’re just getting started, yoga and resistance training are where I would start.
Yoga can be a great way to improve your strength and flexibility, manage your stress, improve your heart health, and lose weight! I recommend using a grounded yoga mat to connect yourself with the earth and reduce inflammation.
Resistance training is the mainstay for overall health. It not only has beneficial effects on reducing body fat, it also increases muscle size and strength. Check out some basic dumbbells/free weights that I recommend to everyone.
Another alternative for dumbbells/free weights are resistance bands. They are great for physical therapy, yoga, strength training, and excellent for traveling.
Remember, living a healthy lifestyle including eating a whole foods plant-based diet, regular physical activity, and reducing stress are the best ways to maintain a healthy weight. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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