One thing that people overlook when they are trying to lose weight is the importance of keeping a food journal. In fact, I highly recommend that if you are serious about losing weight, a food journal is a must. In other words it is not an option! Why is this so important? Why do so many people benefit from writing down what they eat? Here are three reasons:
It Keeps You From Cheating (As Much)
Even the best of us cheat from time to time. I’m not talking about the regularly scheduled cheat meal or carb-nite. I’m taking about those times when you eat something (or a lot of something) you know you shouldn’t. Food journaling can help with this problem.
The objective of a food journal is to write down everything you eat and when you eat it. When you keep track of what you eat in this way, you really have to think twice about what you put in your mouth.
Why is that? Well, One of the reasons we cheat is due to the fact that there is an immediate pleasurable experience. But that is not all. For many people, they do not have to face any negative consequence for their bad behavior right away. They can eat that brownie and not think about it for some time.
However, a food journal provides an immediate negative consequence. It is much like a health coach or an accountability partner that you have to confess to right away. If you had to confess every time you ate something bad for you, and you had to confess it immediately, you most likely would not do it.
Even though no else has to see your food journal, simply having one is still a deterrent for most. The very fact that you have to write your bad behavior down creates an objective reality to the behavior that cannot be ignored. This, in and of itself, is enough of an immediate negative consequence. As a result, it reduces cheating.
It Will Keep You Form Over Eating
Even if you are only eating the right food, the amount of food you eat counts. No, I’m not promoting the calories in calories out myth. But an over abundance of nutrients in your system has to be dealt with. Often your body will eliminate it though waste or store it to fat. Not only this, but there are bad hormonal reactions to stuffing yourself. How much you eat does count. Food journaling helps regulate your overall intake.
The truth is that your overall food intake can get away from you fairly quickly. For example, it’s pretty easy to have four eggs for breakfast instead of two, and a double cheese burger (lettuce wrap, of course) instead of a single; a little more chicken than necessary at dinner, in addition to that bag of almonds you ate for snack. Please do not misunderstand me. All this food is fine if you are really that hungry. However, many people do in fact eat well past satiety.
Overeating becomes more of a problem when you are trying to lose those last 10-15 pounds. At the beginning of your weight-loss journey, simply switching to the right foods will often be enough to lose a significant amount of weight. But if you have stalled out on your progress, the amount of food you eat is often the issue. Food journaling tracks your overall caloric intake. When you write down what you have eaten, you can objectively evaluate what you may need to cut out.
It Keeps You Honest With Yourself
This last point is really a combination of the two points listed above. But it is important to note that when we are not losing weight we expect, it is often due to the fact that we are deceiving ourselves. We lie to ourselves about what we have eaten and how much we have eaten.
The fact of the matter is most people who do not keep a food journal cannot recount with accuracy what they ate. To complicate the matter it’s easy for us to lie to ourselves about these issues. This becomes a big problem when a person is not getting the results they are expecting. Wondering what went wrong or what is going wrong becomes common.
A food journal helps in keeping one from self delusion. After all, there is (or at least there should be) an objective record. This record keeps you honest.
In closing, there is only one question you need to ask yourself: Do you want to lose weight? If you do, then a food journal will tremendous help with your goal.