Cheaters Never Win, Why Food Journaling WorksCheaters NEVER Win…What Your Food Journal Reveals

By Golda Smith

I’m about to blow up someone’s spot, step on some toes and maybe cause some of you to cry. I’ve spoken a number of times about the importance of exercise and meal planning and even accountability. When I decided that I was ready to make my health and fitness top priority, one of the first things I did was hire a coach. Someone to help not only guide me but also bring out the best in me. Sometimes we need that outside force to give us that extra nudge that we somehow aren’t able or willing to give unless pushed.

One of the things my coach asked me to do was keep AND submit a food journal. It has been one of the best exercises that I’ve done these last three years! It’s been so helpful in my recalibrating my relationship with food that I now ask all my clients to do the same.

Now this is where things get cloudy. You see, numerous studies have shown that when people are asked to self-report what they are eating and drinking, they tend to underestimate and/or under report…meaning that they are sharing all the goods! For example, you may say that you ate five meals yesterday and that you ate carbs and protein with all your meals, but what does that really mean? What size were your portions? How was your protein prepared? Was it baked, fried, grilled? Was it covered in a fat laden sauce?

The purpose of keeping a food log isn’t to catch you in some bad act. Instead, the purpose (at least for me) is to help clients reach their personal overall health and fitness goals. Let’s take someone that is trying to break through a plateau. An honest recording of food intake over the past week may show that you have been snacking late at night or that every afternoon at the same time; you have a coffee and donut. The act of recording your food intake helps you gain a greater awareness of what you are putting into your body and take ownership over it.

Don’t cheat yourself!

If you open a bag of chips and eat half the bag instead of the one ounce serving you intended to…own it! Seriously, how many people really eat according to serving size? The point is, write it down and talk with your coach or accountability partner. Depending on your goals, one or two treat meals a week won’t derail your progress. What’s important is the willingness to be honest with yourself, about what you are feeling AND what you are really eating and drinking.

If you are already keeping a food journal, yet not having the results you hope for then ask yourself if you are being detailed enough. What your food journal reveals could provide most of the answers you’re looking for. For example, for breakfast you may have written:

Breakfast- Bagel and eggs with butter and juice

A more detailed way of recording this could be:

Breakfast- Einstein Bros. Everything bagel with a Tsp of butter, 2 scrambled eggs and 8 oz. of Tropicana orange juice.

Do you see the difference? In the second example, you’ve gotten specific with your portions consumed. It really helps to see just how much you are consuming at any given time.  

How is this sitting with you? I really want to know. Do you keep a food journal and if so, how has it helped you? Remember, this is a #NOJudgementZone.

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