Sometimes people wonder about the importance of food journaling. Is it really that vital? Will it really help me lose weight? Yes and yes!
On Beyond Diet, I call your food journal your "success journal." (Doesn't that just sound more upbeat and motivating?) I can't emphasize enough to you what an important tool this is! Beyond Diet members who use their success journal and record the foods they eat are significantly more successful on the program as compared with members who don't journal.
Even though it may seem a bit tedious at first, don't despair! You won't have to keep a food journal for the rest of your life (unless you want to, of course). It's just part of the learning process and a tool that helps you recognize which foods and how much of them make you feel your best!
When I decided to change the way I ate and started my healthy lifestyle journey, I recorded everything I ate and how I felt after I ate it for about two months. Over the next six months, I journaled less and less, because I was beginning to understand how different types and quantities of food affected me.
I stopped journaling after about six months. However, to this day, whenever I start to feel "off," I use my success journal to see if a certain food item might be the culprit.
But don't just take my word for it. Food journaling has the weight of science behind it. In 2008, Kaiser Permanente ended one of the longest-running weight-loss studies that has ever been done. One of the researchers, Jack Hollis, Ph.D., had this to say about the importance of writing down what you eat: "The more food records people kept, the more weight they lost. Those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records. It seems that the simple act of writing down what you eat encourages people to consume fewer calories."
Another reason to use your success journal is that it can really help you pinpoint if you are eating because of emotional reasons. Maybe talking to a certain friend or thinking about your bills tends to send you into a tailspin, and you turn to food. Once you are aware of these habits, you can work on changing them.
If you tend to eat out often (something I discourage), you may be amazed by all the different foods that you are eating once you stop and write them down. And that isn't even counting all the ingredients that you may not be aware of! When you eat out, you really don't have much control over what goes into your food or how it is cooked. Plus, the portions are usually ginormous!
Many people who struggle with losing weight have incorrect ideas about portion sizes. A study out of Cornell University actually showed that the bigger your meals are, the more likely you are to underestimate how much you actually ate. In addition to causing weight gain, eating the wrong portion sizes can also make you feel tired, agitated, or just plain yucky!
Beyond Diet teaches you the correct portion sizes to eat, and many people are surprised by how much (or how little) constitutes a serving. At the beginning of your weight-loss journey, using your success journal will force you to really be conscious of how much food you are consuming.
Another common misconception about weight loss is that you can lose weight simply by skipping meals, such as breakfast. That couldn't be further from the truth! Skipping meals throws off your metabolism and will NOT help you lose weight. Your success journal can help you become more conscious of this bad habit so you can break it.
Accountability and community support are two more reasons to use your success journal. Share your success journal with another member or post updates or comments to the group about your status. It can be very motivating! Plus, being accountable to someone - your partner, your child, the Beyond Diet community - has been shown to help people improve their behaviors.