Keeping a food journal can double a person’s weight loss, according to a 2008 study by Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research. There’s something almost magical about a new notebook. It’s full of so many possibilities and can help in your weight loss journey. By tracking your food, either by a special journal page, a notebook or in an app, you know exactly how much you’re consuming and can even track your moods. One woman lost half her body weight this way. It also gives you a chance to be creative and record your thoughts. Journaling for weight loss can help increase your weight loss and control your emotional eating.
Food Journaling for Weight Loss
It’s no secret, as I’ve said it before: I hate tracking my food. It requires measuring, weighing and more work than I care to do most days. However, I know that when I food journal, I lose weight. I don’t know if it’s because I’m more aware of what I’m eating and have even said no to food just because I don’t want to track it in my app. What I do know is that something magical happens when you track your food intake.
Journaling for Weight Loss
And it’s proven in the 2008 study I mentioned above. Dr. Jack Hollis states that people who keep a food diary lose twice as much weight as those who don’t. Simply writing down what you eat encourages you to eat fewer calories. Dr. Keith Bachmann believes by reflecting on what we eat helps us become aware of our habits and, hopefully, change them.
As bariatric patients, we also need to be aware of how much protein we are consuming. It’s generally recommended to eat 60 to 80 grams of protein per day. The only way we’ll know if we’re hitting this number is if we track our food intake either in a journal or in an app. Protein helps rebuild muscle mass, so we don’t lose muscle during our periods of rapid weight loss. It also acts as a source of energy and helps strengthen our hair, skin and nails.
Methods of Journaling
Now that I have explained why journaling for weight loss is so important, let’s discuss the different ways you can journal. The first method is a good old pen and paper. Get a notebook that is easy to take with you and write down everything you eat and drink. This method is handy because even if you don’t know the nutritional information of the food you’re eating, you can write it down when you eat and look it up later. The cons of this method include having to carry around a notebook with you everywhere you go. However, you can get around this by texting yourself what you eat and writing it down in your notebook when you get home.
Another option is to get a specifically-designed food journal. There’s one I really love about clean eating called “Eat Pretty, Live Well.” It has room for you to food journal and to reflect for 40 days in it. However, a trip to Target or Walmart will provide a wide selection of journals you could buy. Find one that is motivating to you, and one you’ll use.
For an electronic option, you could email yourself your food diary and update it on your phone whenever you eat. Or, you can make a Google Doc that has your food diary in it, and you can record your meals. Another option would be just to text yourself your meals. You could even just take a picture of your meals on your phone (I mean, aren’t we already doing that?) and then write down your meal later.
You could also download a food tracking app. My favorite is My Fitness Pal. MyFitnessPal is an app I downloaded from the Google Play Store (also available on the Apple App Store) on my phone. From there, I can search a huge encyclopedia for different foods, prepared different ways, until I find what I ate and record it in the app. I can also track my water intake, my activity and my weight. It lets me know how many calories I have eaten, and when I have hit my macro-nutrient goals. One of my favorite features is at the of the day when I hit “Complete Diary.” It tells me that if every day were like that day, I would weigh XXX in five weeks. It helps keep me motivated.
What to Record in Your Journal
Journaling is one of those things that is hard for me to take time to do. I think back to watching the cartoon Doug, and how he would start all his journal entries as “Dear Journal, Hi, it’s me, Doug.” When I was younger, I thought my journal entries all had to be deeply personal and detailed, which is probably why it is always so hard for me to take the time to journal.
However, now that I am older and a little wiser, I realize that you don’t have to be so detailed to get the benefits of journaling. For your food journal, you should record:
- The foods and drinks you consume
- The measurements of the food and drink
- Where you ate it
- Your mood when you ate
- The time of your meal
- How hungry you are
- Your activity for the day
- Grams of protein
- Cups of water
Other Ideas to Record
Another way that I stay motivated by journaling for weight loss is writing down tips and ideas I come across. I use a notebook to take notes at my nutrition classes, write down any ideas that jump out at me, and write out my feelings. Sometimes I get so stressed out and worried over things, that I need to take the time to write it in my journal to make sense of the world. It usually helps me feel better afterward, and I can breathe a little easier and get focused on my work.
I also use a notebook when I take online webinars. I love listening to webinars and getting advice from people who are doing what I want to be doing. You could do different journals for different topics in your life, but I like to use just one until it’s full and then move to the next journal. It helps keep my life a little structured by writing down the ideas, and I can always go back and look through them when I need some inspiration.
A Creative Tool
I also like to doodle in my journal sometimes. I think that I need that creative outlet at hand, even if it’s just a doodle of a house or maybe it’s a rainbow. It helps me think and relax a little bit when I can be creative, so I try to do something creative every day. Sometimes that comes out in my cooking, but that’s a post for a different day. It can also be helpful to record your dreams. Sometimes your dreams reflect your innermost thoughts, and by recording them, you can notice any patterns in your life.
Case in Point
I know that you have your doubts about whether journaling for weight loss can work. Let me introduce you to Charmaine Jackson. In a 2013 CNN article, Charmaine shared how journaling helped her lose half her body weight. She describes herself as an emotional eater (sound familiar?), who often mindlessly ate in front of the TV after a long hard day. Charmaine eventually reached 260 pounds and got laid off from her job. She knew she had to take control of her weight.
So, she joined a gym, but for Charmaine, it wasn’t enough. She needed the accountability of journaling for weight loss. She said that journaling kept her honest with herself. At the time of the article, she had five years’ worth of food journals over 14 notebooks! It became a daily habit and paid off. She lost 130 pounds, exactly half her body weight. She’s proof that if you track your foods, emotions, water and exercise, it can make you more aware of your eating patterns. Journaling for weight loss works – try it today!
Journaling for Weight Loss
By journaling for weight loss, you can manage your stress, emotions and calorie intake. It can help you lose weight too, as you’re more aware of what and how much food you’re consuming. You can use a journal template, a notebook or an app. Any place where you can write down what you ate and the surrounding details. Writing down your food makes you more conscious of the choices you’re making. It forces you to evaluate whether you’re eating for fuel or fun. Journaling for weight loss can help increase your weight loss and control your emotional eating.
If this article gave you some great ideas to incorporate into your life, just imagine what other amazing strategies I have for you! Share this post on social media by clicking one of the sharing buttons, and don’t forget to join my email list! You’ll be the first to get updates, access to my new products and lots of tips, inspiration and motivation to help in your bariatric surgery journey. Just for joining, I’ll send you a free eBook with the 10 Habits to Change Before Bariatric Surgery, as well as some other pretty awesome goodies to keep you motivated. Join today!
Journaling for weight loss makes you more aware of what you’re eating. It allows you to focus on patterns and habits surrounding your food choices, so if you’re making unhealthy choices, you can change it. It can also help you track your mood, which helps determine if you’re emotionally eating.