Monday Lifestyle Education Discussion:
Most of you are more than familiar with tracking food and calories. You can do this any number of ways: MyFitness Pal, Pen and Paper, sticky notes–whatever works for you! Some goals of tracking EVERYTHING you put in your mouth are:

– Increases awareness of what, how and when you eat
– Promote accountability for yourself and you can share with your weight loss coach
– Increases knowledge base about calories, macronutrients and portion sizes. Usually, in the beginning it’s a big wake up call as you realize that American serving sizes are colossal!
– Can unveil patterns of mindless eating, habits, food triggers and food cues (you shall know the truth and it will set you free)
– Help you to lose weight. Research supports that the simple act of writing it down is correlated with greater amounts of weight loss

– Do not generalize. Be specific and write everything down including portion sizes and amounts
– Include extra’s such as condiments, dressings, creamers, etc–they add up!
– Keep it simple. If you make it too difficult, you will not stick with tracking
– Include your feelings and emotions
– Find a format that works for YOU. Myfitness Pal is a good tool, but pen and paper works well too
– Personalize it. Journaling is about YOU and for YOU. You may have to experiment some before you find a system that works for you

In addition to tracking food, I would advocate for a different type of journaling. When we overeat, it’s likely not due to a knowledge deficit. More than likely our harmful eating habits are in response to emotional triggers such as feelings of loneliness, sadness, anger, boredom, stress, etc. We can also eat to increase feelings of happiness or elation. Journaling is simply a method for externalizing your thoughts, feelings or emotions. I would argue that most of us have not been taught how to identify and deal with our tough emotions. So instead of dealing with our emotions and taking control of our emotional health, we stuff emotions/feelings with food (or fill in the blank). Journaling is a powerful tool that allows your left and right brain to work together to solve complex problems.

If you have weight loss goals, it’s important that you reconnect with journaling and/or food tracking. Try it for one week and see if its a tool that helps you.

About the Author
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Weight Loss Coach specializing in lifestyle transformation