Over my career as a Coach, I’ve found a recurring theme. We fool ourselves. We typically don’t want to admit when we’re not practicing as good of habits as we should. Instead, we make stuff up! We ate great this week, worked hard, and despite our best efforts, we didn’t get one step closer to our goals..
When this scenario pops up (and trust me we all do it), I usually ask the person painting a rosy picture to prove it.
Simply keeping a record of what you eat has shown to have huge benefits:
- In one study, participants keeping a food diary six days a week lost about twice as much weight as those who kept a record one day a week or less.
- In another study of over 2,000 participants encouraged to record food intake, researchers found the single best predictor of a participant’s weight loss was the person keeping a food diary. Food journaling even trumped exercise habits. The number of pounds people lost was directly related to the number of days food intake was recorded.
- Multiple other studies have shown improved weight loss success rates simply by increasing self awareness through some type of food monitoring.
Something about having to honestly record the meals we’ve eaten seems to have a positive effect even if we don’t share that information with anyone else. Food journaling may make us think twice about eating that scrumptious snack just so we don’t have to look back at the mistakes we made. I’d call that self accountability.
Journals also have a great effect even if they are not incredibly detailed. Most often, clients don’t have to record calories or even measure their portions to find the issues (calorie count on food labels have been found to be off by as much as 25% anyways so don’t waste your time recording those figures).
Usually, its the food choices we’re making that leads to our lack of results. When I see a food journal with a couple good meals early in the day followed by Jack in the Box on the way home, 3 beers, and a couple of late night snacks… Well I don’t need much more detail, we found your problem areas. And trust me, a lot of times it is usually this evident.
I like to make this process as easy as possible for my clients. I buy them a 3″x 5″ mead notepad that they can take with them anywhere. Fits perfectly in a purse or pocket. Each time you eat, pull it out and write down rough measurements of the meal.
And once we see the issues clearly, the solutions seem to present themselves. 95% you don’t need to be a nutritionist to figure out the basics.