Countless studies have proven that using a food journal is the most effective method to losing weight and keeping it off. Writing down or recording what you eat keeps you accountable and aware of your food intake.
Typically, people tend to underestimate how much they eat and overestimate activity. By keeping a journal, accuracy for how much you are eating and exercising improves.
To get started, you’ll need a good food journal tool that works best for your lifestyle. If you sit at a desk all day, you may like an online journal option. If you’re on the go, a book or App on your phone may work best for you. Below are a few of my favorite resources, some of which are free (you can’t beat that!):
- Calorie King: Calorie, Fat, and Carbohydrate Counter and companion Food and Exercise Journal
- Smart Phone apps
- Free: MyFitness Pall (excellent program)
- Free: Lose it! (also great)
If you are a Smart Phone user, the above apps offer a barcode scanning option to make journaling that much easier! Just hold your phone over the barcode and the food item will pop up! It’s really easy!
Tips for Success
- Record as close to mealtime as possible. Avoid waiting until the end of the day and relying upon memory to recall exactly what you ate and drank during the day.
- Accurately record portion sizes. This means getting out your measuring cups, spoons and food scales if you need to.
- Record every morsel, no matter how big or small. Even small samples and sips add up!
- Look at restaurant menus before you go out to eat. Most chain restaurants will have their nutrition information posted on their website. You can also check out nutrition info for different menu items using your journal “app” on your phone.
- While notebook paper works fine, loose pieces of paper often get scattered and lost. Having an “official” food journal may make all the difference in the world.
- When you are ready, track your exercise too! When you burn calories through exercise, you can subtract calories burned from calories eaten. Be careful though! Aim for a healthy “Net” calorie target (food minus exercise). If your target calorie goal is 1600 and you burn an additional 400, make sure to eat back that 400 calories. Giving your body too little fuel can decrease your muscle mass, hurt your metabolism, and could result in nutrient deficiencies.
- MultiCare Center for Healthy Living offers nutrition counseling, body fat testing, and resting metabolic rate testing if you need help along the way. Pierce County Matchup participants get 20% off all nutrition services. Visit www.multicare.org/nutrition-services for a list of services offered.