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Food journaling can help you melt off the pounds

Food journaling may seem like yet another line on your mile-long to-do list, but the time you invest could change your life. Shayna Komar, a licensed and registered dietitian at Cancer Wellness at Piedmont, says her clients who keep a food journal see significant success because they are held accountable for what they eat, which pushes them to make necessary changes.

Food journaling benefits

“Food journaling is very important because it helps you stay accountable with what you eat,” says Komar. “Many people underestimate their portion sizes and snacks. If you aren’t seeing the results you want, a food journal can show your areas of struggle.”

Fortunately, food journaling doesn’t have to be a chore and is easy to customize to your lifestyle. Komar says some people carry a small notebook or a piece of paper with them throughout the day, while others use websites or smartphone apps to record their meals. She is a fan of MyFitnessPal, but says there are plenty of similar apps available.

Food journaling for weight loss

Write down or digitally record everything you eat and drink when you consume it. Try not to wait until the end of the day – it’s easier to forget exactly what you ate when it’s been several hours since your meal.

Small amounts of calories add up, so record the handful of candy you got from a co-worker’s desk or the leftovers you ate off your child’s plate.

“You need to write down even those little bites,” she says. “People are shocked because I have them write down portion size and they see that they ate two cups of cereal when the serving size is three-fourths of a cup. Or they think they are using one tablespoon of peanut butter on their toast, but they actually use three.”

Food journaling tips

If you’re new to food journaling, keep it simple so you stick with it. Record the following categories:

  • Everything you eat and drink

  • Your portion size

If you want to take it a step further, you can record:

Remember, record as you go for best results.

“A lot of people can lose weight just by writing down calories and protein,” she says. “Those who journal have a lot of success with weight loss because they are more accountable.”

When to see a dietitian

Once you’ve been journaling for awhile, consider having a registered dietitian review your records to see if you are over-consuming calories or under-consuming protein, for example. This is especially helpful if you aren’t seeing the weight loss results you are looking for.

“You want to make sure you are getting enough of each food group and enough hydration,” Komar explains.

Positive reinforcement

Celebrate your progress with non-food rewards. Komar suggests a manicure, book, magazine or new workout shirt.

“If you are feeling like you are not reaching your nutrition and exercise goals, food journaling is a good new habit to form,” says Komar. “You might be shocked at what you are consuming.”

Get more Living Better nutrition tips.

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