Saturday , June 24 2017

Why you should keep a Food Journal: Practical steps to maintain one

Learn amazing reasons for maintaining a Food Journal.

How you should be maintaining a food Journal?

This is a question I hear all the time.

 

Let’s not only see How, but also Why and When…

 

So, let’s dig into the reasons:

Firstly, let’s take on why:

“What gets measured gets Improved”, as the old saying goes,

The same is true for various aspects of life including your health and weight loss effort.

Imagine how silly it would be if your auto mechanic just tried finding out what the problem with your car was without lifting the hood. Do you think he would know what to do? Surely not!

 

In the same way without knowing what we consume and how much of it, it would be hard to achieve a health or weight loss target. Though it is possible, that would be just a “hit or miss”, situation.

If you are looking for a sure shot method of achieving your health goals, you cannot afford not to journal.
Thus, by analysing your food journal you will able to do course corrections towards your goal. You will able to see trends and analyse bad habits.

Besides, you will think twice before eating that extra bag of chips if you need to log it down, later.
Also, by keeping a food journal, certain things can come to light which you might not have thought about before. For example, you might become aware of certain mild allergies that have, by correlating the food you have eaten and any symptoms that have shown up.

 

Food Log Button

That brings us to our next question as to when:

Now you must be thinking that this thing about maintaining a food Log, is not easy and not practical in the long run.

 

Yes, I would agree that it takes a bit of effort, and I know it because I have done it.
But the fact of the matter is that you do not have to be maintaining it all your life.

Now, you will have to understand that, there are various phases in anyone’s weight loss journey.

Starting from Contemplating about Losing weight, to getting to know how to lose weight, then to taking action and Finally to maintaining the state of a Healthy Weight.

 

Once you have achieved the maintenance phase, you can choose whether to continue maintaining the food journal or not.

Then again when you want to achieve another health goal, it would be a great idea to get back to journaling.

Does that seem fair and practical?

OK, as we have discussed the why and the when, we need to see the how of Food Journaling.

Food Log

Food Journalling 101:

What should we use for logging down?

This will depend on the type of person you are.

 

Allow me to explain:
Some people love to use fancy apps and gadgets, some people prefer to use spreadsheets and others (including me) like to use a physical book.
As long as you are able to log down precisely what you are eating and how much of it, it should be good enough.

Another thing you might want to log down when you fill in your food journal is the emotional state you were in or the triggers that caused you to eat a certain food item. This will help you understand more about your food choices.

Food Log Button  
You can choose to log down the calories you consume, but you can instead log down portions.

 

For a method of knowing how many calories each food item contains, you can use the free food calorie calculators available online. I have linked below, to some sights where you can find such calculators:

http://caloriecontrol.org/healthy-weight-tool-kit/food-calorie-calculator/
http://caloriescount.com/FoodCalculator.aspx
http://www.calorieking.com/foods/

 

To know how to practically estimate portion sizes, you can check out this post:
Portion Size and Serving Size – Learn to use your hands to measure these

Serving and Portion Sizes  
Now, let’s check out the different ways you can maintain a food log and you can choose which method you like the most.

 

1) Journaling apps:

With journaling apps, you can easily log down very precisely what you have consumed. Some even have drop-down menus with food groups and include the number of calories. So, if it is ultimate precision that you are looking for, apps might be your thing.

Food Journal app

Let us look at some of these apps in greater details:

My Fitness Pal,

or MFP as it is commonly known – A Free app that will record the number of calories you are expending daily. This even synchronises with certain fitness trackers. You can also log in what you are consuming and this app has a large database of food items. So, it is relatively easy to use.

 

Two Grand

This is an app that is basically a photo journal of the food you consume. You can not only log down the food you eat in terms of pictures, but also exercises you do. It also has a social media aspect, where you can follow others and others follow you back. This can serve as a good support system.

 

2) Spreadsheets:

Ready made spreadsheets can be found all across the internet, or you can even make one out on your own. The good part here is that you can customise what and how you would like to log things down.
You can download a free spreadsheet from our Resource library. Just click the link below.

 

3) Physical book:

This method might be for you if you are a paper and pen kind of person. Here you can customise what and how you would like to log things down.
I also have some printable food journal or log sheets which you can download, print out, fill out and file, daily.

Food Log Button  

Let’s see some Practical Tips:

Now, the more details you can log down the better. Start with the first thing you eat each morning and do not forget to include your water intake.
Keep a few sheets handy if you are using the pen and paper method.

You can consider printing out a table with the calorie count of each food item and pinning it up in a convenient place.
You can print out the portion size template and again pin it up.
You can get the free template here:
 
Serving and Portion Sizes  
Now when you have all this data in one place it should become easy to start your food tracking.

Conclusion:

A food Diary is a must for someone serious about health and weight loss. There are different ways you can track your progress from tracking apps to the good old Pen and paper method.

By keeping a Daily Food Log, you can not only know where you are faltering but also get to know yourself better.

I would be pleased to hear your experiences with keeping a Food Journal, and any hitches that you have faced along the way. Please leave a comment to that effect.

FREE Food Log | Food Journal | Learn how to start and maintain

About Kneller

Kneller Fernandes is the founder of “Stay Fit n Young .com”. He is a NESTA certified "Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist". He lives in Mumbai with his wife and two kids. Know more about him here.

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