Monday, January 24, 2011

Food Journal – Do I have to do this?

So I start reading the Lose It for Life book and I meet resistance right away. It wants me to keep a food journal. I’m supposed to write down everything I eat. It sounds like a lot of work so I put it on the back burner.

As I go through the workbook for the chapter, I am reminded of what I’m not doing. Okay, I’m not in charge anymore, I’ll do it. I get a small notebook and start. September 18, 2010 is the first entry. I have done this every day since. Everything that goes in my mouth gets written down.

The idea behind a food journal is to give an honest account of what one eats. It’s easy to fool yourself. We can forget all the things we consume through grazing – this and that as we pass through the kitchen, etc. It also helps with the why of eating. Am I hungry or am I bored? Am I hurting and hoping that food will soothe?

After two months of keeping this diary, I started thinking of calories. How many calories should I have each day and how many am I getting? I knew I was eating less but I was curious. I went to a bookstore and found an easy to use book that listed the calorie content of most foods. It’s called The Ultimate Calorie, Carb, & Fat Gram Counter. Now I was looking like a true fanatic. On October 19, I started writing down the calories of what was in my food diary. I found it very interesting and not too hard to do.

In mid-November I found a program for my Ipod Touch called MyFitnessPal. It automated the whole diary process and synced to a website called With over 660,000 foods in its database, it made entering food very easy and I could track my progress, exercise and get nutritional information as well. Available for Android also, it’s all free. You can use the online journal by itself too.

A food journal has helped immensely in my weight loss journey. Studies show that people who track their food lose twice as much as those who don’t and are more likely to keep it off. Another study showed that the best predictor of weight loss throughout the first year was the number of food records kept per week.

Another benefit to me is being able to budget my calories. If I am going to go out to dinner for example, I can cut back through the day so that at the end of the day I have not exceeded what I should have eaten. On New Year’s Eve I took my boys to Jim’s Burger Haven and we had giant double cheeseburgers and I had onion rings on the side. At the end of the day I hadn’t exceeded my calories, although as expected I was a little over on fat grams.

Here is a good example why it is good to know the calories of food choices. Two weeks ago I went to Applebee’s for dinner. As I looked through the menu I saw they had a section of entrees that were less than 550 calories. All of them looked very good. As I browsed the menu I saw a picture of Crispy Orange Chicken. It looked good! I looked it up and found it was 1550 calories. I settled on Grilled Dijon Chicken & Portobellos which was 450 calories. I was saved 1100 calories by that choice. By the way, if I want to lose a pound per week my recommended calorie intake is 1550 per day. Here was an entrée with that many calories in one meal. I now understand one of the reasons why I was gaining weight. I also understand the way to lose weight.

I have learned a lot about various foods through this process and have a better idea of the ones that are healthier than others. My first objective on this journey is to be healthy. As I restrict calories I want to make sure I have a balanced diet. There are many foods I avoid but I don’t feel at all deprived. I enjoy finding better choices, eating in moderation and actually enjoying the things I am eating.

If you would like to see how this works, here is a link to my online diary. Use the password healthy. You can see my foods, exercise, weight loss, etc. It’s a great setup and very easy to use.

Well enough for now. Later I will tell you some of the other things I have learned and the benefits I have enjoyed.

Here is a link to posts about my weight loss journey.


1 comment:

  1. Sounds like accountability to me!
    You're will power and follow through are impressive


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