If you are on a mission to weight loss, one thing that you’ll want to ensure you’re taking the time to do is keeping a weekly food journal. Now, you might immediately groan, thinking this is simply too much work and not something you have time for.
I ask that you question this for a moment. If you use a meal planner, you’ll come find that it can easily double as a weekly food journal and help guarantee that you see results. And really, what’s more important than that? Isn’t a few more minutes added to your day each week worth the assurance that you get results from your weight loss plan?
Studies have proven that using a weight loss journal will pay off. One study for instance, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine noted that of the 1,685 overweight or obese people studied for a six month time period, the most powerful predictor of whether or not they lost weight was how many days they use their journal to record their food intake(1).
Likewise, another study that was published in 2008 by the Kaiser Center for Health and Research in Portland, Oregon noted that of the 1,700 people participating in the study, those who kept a food diary for six months lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t journal their meals(2).
Why are food journals so powerful? Let’s look at the reasons these help and how you can get started with your own.
Greater Awareness Of Food Choices
The first big reason why using a food journal can help you skyrocket your success rate is because it makes you more aware of the food choices you’re making. When you know that you have to write down what you eat, you might think twice about going in for that slice of pizza for dinner.
In essence, a food journal is a great accountability tool that will help constantly remind you that you should be eating healthier.
As your food journaling continues on, you might come to find that you don’t want to ‘ruin’ your good history of eating so well for so many days by indulging in a food you shouldn’t.
Ability To Track Trends/Changes
The next reason a food journal is so powerful is because it allows you to track trends and/or changes in your progress. If you are eating at a certain calorie level for instance with a certain ratio of macronutrients (carbs, proteins, and fats) and notice an exceptionally good rate of weight loss, you can then use this to help form your plan going forward.
If you make a few changes and notice that you aren’t seeing as good of results, it’s easy to revert back to the former plan you were using since you have it all written in your journal.
If you are never journaling, unless you have a very good memory, doing this will be next to impossible.
Identifies Food Intolerances
Another way that a food journal can help you is with identifying food intolerances. If you also report how you feel after each meal and/or snack that you eat, you can note trends in symptoms related to food intolerances.
For those who are constantly feeling bloated, gassy, or having digestive upset, you may be able to pinpoint your trigger food.
Then, by eliminating this from your plan, you can feel that much better as you go about your day to day lifestyle.
In addition to discovering food intolerances, you may also come to see which foods simply agree with your body the best, giving you lasting energy without making you feel weighed down.
So as you can see, there are many advantages to using a food journal.
The Challenges With Meal Planning And Food Tracking
Now, like most things in life, no matter how great something is, there is almost always a challenge to it.
The first big challenge to meal planning and food tracking is the time and effort it involves. Some people are already so busy they hardly have time to worry about food preparation itself, never mind writing down what they are eating.
The good news is that this is easily resolved however. For instance, if you use a site such as EatThisMuch.com’s meal planner, you will get a listing of exactly what you are to be eating each and every day of the week, so it acts as your food journal as well.
The second obstacle that some people struggle to overcome with food journaling is figuring out the calories and macros of all the foods they are eating. It’s one thing to simply write down the foods and serving sizes you are eating (which is helpful to a degree), and quite another to list how many total calories and grams of proteins, carbs, and fats you ate for the day.
The more details you include in your food journal, the more complete it’s going to be and therefore, the more helpful it will be for you.
Again, using a meal planner like Eat This Much helps take this obstacle out of the way. The plan will list for you all the nutritional stats, so you have that information instantly at your fingertips.
More than anything, figuring out this information on your own can be extremely time consuming, so having these all laid out for you is something you will really come to appreciate.
So there you have the main reasons why you should be utilizing a good meal planner and food journal. It’s one of the best tools to guarantee that all the hard work and effort you put in with your diet pays off and you see the long-term results that you’re looking for.
1. Hollis, J. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, August 2008; vol 35.
2. Kaiser Permanente Study Finds Keeping a Food Diary Doubles Diet Weight Loss.