Food journaling. It’s a pretty popular and completely effective way to manage your nutritional goals.
I’m not a huge believer in planning. I have mentioned that before. I take a dash of this a dab of that and voila create a recipe. I have ten thousand instructional pamphlets on everything from iPhones to dating, but have I read and actually taken the advice of any of them? No.
I’m what I call an instantly gratified human. Blame it on my generation of blink of an eye technology.
I know most of you reading this can relate. You want results ten minutes ago, not ten days from now. (Did I mention I am opposed to online shopping, too? Yes, even if there’s free shipping!)
When it comes to tracking health and fitness goals, it’s important to plan. This is why for years I had failed at reaching most of my goals. I would start writing everything down and then be like wait, what’s the point? I’m not losing any weight and this isn’t upping my IQ, so I quit.
What I failed to realize was that all of this nutritional magic happens over a period of time. Not in one week or even in my case one month.
As some of you may know, the one successful tool which helped me stay on track with my weight loss goals was meal planning.
Recently, I began taking up food journaling again… (it’s really just like riding a bike you know!) It’s been going fairly well, especially now that I store everything in one neat document on my google drive.
Okay, okay, so you write everything you eat and your physical activity down too, so what?
Well, the point of keeping a record of what you are eating is to benefit…YOU. If you just write it down and never look at it again, your doctor isn’t going to scold you and you won’t fail for the year. You’ll only fail yourself.
I’ve come up with a list of five principles to evaluate every few weeks or so to make sure you’re not food journaling for nothing.
1. Quality of meals. This is often overlooked. We are so accustomed to either not eating breakfast or grabbing a quick bite of something processed on our way out that we are failing to realize we aren’t receiving the most adequate nutrition.
I always tell clients to look for ratio of fats to carbs to proteins. Make sure the fats you are consuming are healthy fats (monounsaturated) and your carbs are coming from a clean source. (greens, whole grains) Proteins should be between 8-15 g. per meal. Oh and of course, fiber is a huge factor in balancing out the meal. If a meal has at least 3-8 grams, you’re good to go! If you aren’t sure of the exact numbers of meals you are eating, you can always use a nutritional tracker like my fitness pal to figure it out.
2. Timeliness of meals. I’m not usually crazy stringent about outlining standards for meal timing, but I believe it’s important to take note of. It’s most important to listen to your body instead of a clock or a 24/7 drive thru to let you know when you’re hungry. Food can impact your energy levels tremendously so if you’re having meals erratically, chances are you’re doing more damage than benefit to yourself.
I usually eat every 4 hours. If I’m super hungry I’ll throw in a small snack like an orange and some pistachios in between that time frame. I also do not eat very late at night because food doesn’t agree with me right before slumbering. Do what works best for you.
3. Physical Activity. I know this doesn’t fall under the meals category, but you should try to track this as well. It’ll help when you read over your eating habits at a later date. We all know exercise is essential, but it’s also not something you have to kill yourself over. Taking some shortcuts or even just a brisk walk outside counts. It’ll burn off some extra calories, too!
I usually work out in the morning before eating. It took me a while to make this change as I used to be a “burn the midnight oil” exerciser. It’s helped me tremendously with jumpstarting my day and also losing extra weight around my midsection. I don’t recommend this to those just embarking upon a healthier lifestyle.
4. Make sure the spot for breakfast is filled. Eat something within 2 hours of waking. Like I said previously, I will usually go sans breakfast until after my workout is complete in the morning. I used to be a breakfast skipper, which lead to massive binges throughout the day. I would strongly recommend beginning with something small and easily digestible like some fruit and healthy fats. You must have something to power the tank.
5. Snacks. This is America’s most favorite buzzword. It seems our eyes widen to that of an emoji’s when we are allowed snacks. Snacks shouldn’t be treated like splurge awards. This is something I must stress. If you are having snacks every day in between meals and they include processed foods (candy bars, granola, french fries, ice cream, chips, etc.) this could really be steering you wrong.
As you all know I’m a chocoholic. I MUST have chocolate every single day. What I do is make sure I have one snack all day. It’s usually between breakfast and lunch, sometimes on occasion I’ll have one after dinner. I make sure to just have a few handfuls of chocolate chips with fruit or a nut butter (boy am I predictable or what?) I don’t do this every time I feel hungry in between larger meals. Also, if you are eating well balanced meals, there will be no need for snacking. You will automatically feel satisfied.
So what’s your take on food journaling? Do you think it has benefits? What information do you look for when reviewing it?
Peace, love and keep a food journal!