As per recent research published in the journal Obesity, keeping a regular food journal may help boost your weight-loss success, and it only takes about 15 minutes per day. But, the most impactful variable in the study wasn’t how long people spent recording what they ate or even how detailed they were. Rather, it was how often they logged. The ones who used their food journal the most frequently also shed the most pounds.
“Tracking what we eat is a way to cultivate this awareness, and it also encourages accountability to ourselves. When we pay attention to what goes in, we are more aware of the decisions we make and our typical eating habits” explains Marni Amsellem, PhD, a clinical psychologist based in Connecticut and New York. “Compliance, or regular tracking, is key.”
Of course, just knowing that consistent food journaling is good for you and actually making it a habit are two different things.
1. MAKE IT CONVENIENT
A food journal that’s easy to use and accessible 24/7 sets you up for success. “You can be motivated to stick with a food journal by keeping it somewhere you can always find it, like on your phone with an app like MyFitnessPal,” says Staci Gulbin, RD. If you’re short on time, try taking a picture of your food and logging it later. It’s simple!
2. SCHEDULE REMINDERS
Set alarm reminders on your phone before your typical meal times. adds Dr. Craig Primack, president of the Obesity Medicine Association adds, “Rather than waiting until the day end, try to enter food in your journal before you eat it. This one small step can enable you to make more mindful eating decisions.” says Primack.
3. SET SHORT-TERM GOALS
Writing down goals and monitoring your progress regularly can help motivate you to change for the better. Schedule some time each week to record a specific goal that will help you adopt new healthy eating habits. Changing your behavior one small step at a time will enable you to transform your habits for the long-term. This will, in turn, ultimately help you reach your weight-loss goals.
4. SAY GOODBYE TO PERFECTIONISM
If you’re not so happy with what you’ve been eating lately or you’ve slacked off tracking food for a while, you can boost your motivation by being compassionate with yourself, says Amsellem. Life can be busy and stressful, and forgetting to track a meal or snack is to be expected. Be understanding about your challenges rather than giving up when your record is less-than-perfect. You can always return to your food journal at the next snack or meal and having a consistency-beats-perfection mindset will help you succeed long-term.