Today I want to talk about the importance of keeping a food log for the next 5 weeks. I like to recommend food logs because I think they can successfully help keep us accountable. Believe it or not, our daily calorie allotment can be utilized quickly; a few extra bites here, a couple drinks there, and you’ve just consumed an extra 500-1000 calories! Baffling!
So the first thing I want you to do is find a journal. It could be an old notebook or something a little more fancy, but please find something with enough room for a 5 week food log. Get a journal that can easily be carried around in your purse or work bag so you can write down what, when, and how much you are consuming right after you eat. It’ll be a lot easier to remember what you ate if you keep the log with you at all times. Plus, you might find yourself more mindful before eating a whole bag of M&Ms when you know you have to answer to your food log!!!! I also want you to include how you felt before and after you ate; hungry, rushed, sad, angry, etc.
Below is an example of the format I think is best. This is what I ate yesterday:
- 8:00 am: Oatmeal: 3/4 c. organic whole milk, 3/4 c. frozen mixed berries, 1 tsp chia seeds, 1 tablespoon dried goji berries, cinnamon, and vanilla. Water to drink.
Thoughts: Woke up really hungry. Couldn’t wait to dig in to a healthy breakfast. Felt extremely satisfied after I ate.
- 11:45 am: 1 slice multigrain bread with 1/2 tsp organic butter. Water to drink.
Thoughts: Hungry. Waiting on the hubby for breakfast and decided to eat a piece of toast before he arrived.
- 12:30 pm: 2 pastured eggs, 1 slice multigrain bread with 1/2 tsp organic butter, 2 kiwis, 4 oz orange juice, water.
Thoughts: Hungry. Ate a little more than I would have liked, so I was really full after this meal. Next time I might exclude the OJ or nixed the second piece of toast!
- 3:30 pm: Snickers peanut butter square, water.
Thoughts: Not really hungry, just wanted something sweet. Maybe I was bored? Next time I might try to go for a walk instead.
- 4:45 pm: 1 tsp TJ’s almond butter with flaxseeds and banana, water.
Thoughts: hungry. Pre-workout snack. Felt really satisfied afterwards.
- 6:30 pm: 1 1/2 cups vegetarian chili, 1 cup mixed greens with 1 cup mixed veggies and 1 tablespoon homemade balsamic vinaigrette, glass of ice water.
Thoughts: Post-workout high! The tummy was grumbling for dinner! This chili was so delicious and super satisfying!
- 8:00 pm: ~1 1/2 cups homemade popcorn with 1 tsp melted organic butter, water.
Thoughts: Needed a nighttime snack. I was truly hungry. This was just what I needed to feel satisfied.
*Don’t forget to include beverages. Those calories will sneak up on you too! Make sure to include the time and amount of each food you consume! Keep the log as neat as possible, making it much easier to reflect back on! I’m not much of an emotional eater anymore, so if you are, be sure to include what emotions you were feeling when you decided to eat!
If you are looking for more detailed information about calories, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, etc, I suggest signing up for a free online food journal called The Daily Plate. Once a member, follow instructions for how to add all the foods from your food log to the website, getting a detailed break down of how your intake met your daily requirements. The Daily Plate is super simple to use! Be sure to check it out!
If you start keeping a food log, be sure to ask yourself the following:
- Where are my calories coming from? Do I have a lot of “empty” calories in the form of chips, cookies, and other snacks?
- How can I add more fruits and vegetables throughout the day? Can I replace any snacks for something more healthful?
- What am I drinking? Do I consume a lot of soda, diet soda, sweetened teas, etc? How can I drink more water?
- Am I getting enough variety? Or do I eat the same foods every day? How can I change it up?
- Do I eat breakfast? If not, how can I include breakfast every day?
- Do I eat regularly or do I go longer than 4 hours without eating? Could this be setting me up for a binge?
Your food log is going to be your new best friend these next 5 weeks. Just remember to be honest with it. If not, you’re only hurting yourself!
*With all of this being said, there are some people who would not benefit from a food log and that would be those who feel it makes them compulsive, particularly those who have suffered eating disorders. If you have suffered from an eating disorder or another obsessive compulsive behavior when it comes to health, this post is not for you.
QUESTION: Have you ever kept a food log before? Did you find it helped?Print