I hear it all the time: “I hate tracking my food!” “It’s so boring!” “I just don’t have it in me.” Why does food journalling suck? Why do people roll their eyes, snarl their lips or complain “I just can’t do it!” regardless of all the research out there that tells us how effective it is? They way I see it, there are two reasons:
1) It’s because it’s a new habit. It’s something you’ve never done before that you’re being asked to do daily. Habits are not easy things to change (which is why weight loss can be so difficult in the first place) and most of us don’t give ourselves enough time to create the habit. Like creating a good exercise routine it involves consistency and doing it even when you don’t want to do it and, after a month or two you’ll realize it’s become second nature, I promise! Be patient with yourself and remind yourself that Rome wasn’t built in a day.
2) It also sucks because you’re now being asked to not blindly go through your day stuffing your face without question. Food journalling demands that you pay attention to what you put into your body on a daily basis and this is something that we’ve never been asked to do before. It’s annoying when you can’t slap some ingredients in between two pieces of bread and call it a day. But what if it’s that sandwich that’s causing your weight gain? How the heck are you supposed to know this if you’re not paying attention?
Or perhaps you find yourself with a sugar craving every day at 3pm so you grab a low-fat muffin from the coffee shop without realizing that the muffin may not have fat but it probably still has about 300 calories? Or that you could stop that sugar craving in the bud by making sure you eat throughout the day so that your insulin levels don’t get all out of whack, causing that very sugar craving?
Most of us simply do not pay attention to what we eat and this gets us into trouble when, five years later we wonder where that 15 – 30 pounds came from.
It’s not about the calories, it really isn’t, it’s about awareness. Yes, you should be aware of how many calories you need in a day to survive (or lose weight) and that a 300 calorie muffin a day probably isn’t that good for your waistline, but when you become aware of your eating patterns, you are better armed with a way of dealing with it. Our brains are much too full as they are and you absolutely cannot remember everything you ate over the last few weeks (try it, I’ll wait… got stuck on dinner on Tuesday night, didn’t you… ). Food journalling allows you to easily see these patterns so you can create a course correction. You don’t even need to track actual calories, you can do just fine with tracking portion sizes, either will do.
How can you make food journalling easier? I’m glad you asked!
- If you meal plan, you’re already set! Add your journalling while you meal plan for the week, write in your journal what you’re going to eat every day. Or do what I do and do it the night before. Our meals are fairly routine so once those first couple of weeks are over and done with, it doesn’t take long to copy it over.
- USE YOUR PHONE! I am making a huge case for investing in a SmartPhone for this one. There are amazing food journalling apps out there that make your journalling a snap! It literally can take me about one minute to track my food for the day thanks to apps and I highly recommend the MyFitnessPal app simply due to the barcode scanner which makes tracking even easier. Let’s not forget the copy function which allows you to easily copy over any recurring meal to today’s date (or a date in the future). This is what allows me to track my whole day in about a minute.
- Don’t worry if you eat out for dinner and can’t track calories, just make a note of what you ate and approximately how much. Again, don’t obsess over your calories, you’re looking for awareness.
- To create the habit, start off slowly, try just tracking your breakfast every day for two weeks, then add lunch, then dinner, then snacks. Or try tracking everything but just for 2 or 3 days per week and then add on.
- Shift your mindset! Instead of throwing a hissy fit over it, remind yourself that it’s helping you to achieve your goals. Remind yourself that it’s a helpful tool instead of something you MUST do, it’s something you WANT to do because you know it works. When I switched my mindset like this, that’s when tracking became much easier for me and I’m inching up on a 200 day tracking streak (yup, I said 200).
Food journalling does NOT have to be complicated! It can be your friend, it wants to be your friend because it wants you to succeed! Just be patient with yourself and let it be easy!
Photo Credit: Blogging My Fitlosophy