Weight Loss Toolkit: 5 Steps of Food Journaling

Have you ever had some major thing that you’ve always wanted to do, but it seemed impossible? There were so many different things you could do to make it happen, but you weren’t sure how to start? What tools you would need to help make it happen? Which method or combination of methods was best for you? How to break down the sections into manageable stages for completion?

Weight loss and weight maintenance are definitely two major challenges where you may need several tools to help you achieve your goals.

One of the first things that you can do in preparing yourself mentally for weight loss is to start a food journal. Think of your food journal as that beginning research on yourself. You have to know your current status to help make your game plan to achieve your weight loss goals.
Now, a food journal can be an intimidating prospect in and of itself; but it doesn’t have to be.

The first thing to ask yourself is what role is the food journal will play in your weight loss journey.

Before you get started, there are some things to keep in mind about food journals:
• The food journal is not the end-game. It is a tool to help you achieve your goals. It is not designed to be a long term activity.
• Like any activity, you have to keep at it for the time frame that you are doing it.
• It can downright scary to admit to yourself the things you are consuming. 
Now, how to make a food journal work for you:

1. Format.
Choose a format you that jives well with your personality and your lifestyle. An old school pen and notebook works just as well as taking notes or a picture with your phone. The easier you make it to record your consumption, the more likely you will document what you eat and drink.
2. Frequency
Pick your tracking frequency. Some of us are better at recall than others. You could incorporate your food journal into your nighttime routine with your notebook on the nightstand; or you may be better at taking care of things as they happen.

3. Track everything
Sometimes you don’t want to admit that we swiped that fun-sized candy bar from the receptionist’s candy dish (or three times during the day because it’s your favorite). Did you forget about that late afternoon grande special flavor latte with whipped cream? What about all those food sample stations that are cropping up in the grocery stores? Food can come at us from all angles. How often do you succumb to the temptation for a tasty morsel?
4. Details.
Decide how detailed you want to be. The more information you that you make note of can help you and your  weight loss advisors make the best plan for you. These extra details are often best recorded immediately rather than waiting for an end-of-the-day recall. These can include things like
          • ingredients (especially the contents of those additional condiments)
          • portion sizes
          • nutrition information tracking (calories, carbs, fat, fiber)
          • time of day
          • how hungry you are
          • emotions (before, during, and after eating)
          • exercise
          • medications
          • other medical tracking (blood sugar levels, allergy identification)
5. Review and reflect
It is time for the moment of truth. What have you been eating? How often? Why? What trends do you see? While reviewing your food journal with your weight loss experts (goingmetabolic.com) is not mandatory for them to develop the next steps in your weight loss goals, it can help you and them identify potential problem areas you may have.
Studies from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, and the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, have found that participants who use food journals lose more weight than participants who did not. With food journaling comes awareness of your what you eat, how often you eat, and why you eat.

So, can a food journal help you lose weight? That depends on you. A food journal is merely one tool  in your toolkit to help you on your weight loss journey. You can start out slow with documenting just what you eat and drink. You can add more details later. Your food journal can inform you of some of your more unconscious behaviors like overeating, as well as help you incorporate and more weight loss strategies into your routine like meal planning or incorporating exercise.

Remember, your food journal is not the end game. Weight loss is your goal and the experts at the Metabolic Medical Centers can get you there.

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