Keeping a food journal is an effective and positive tactic for those who need focus, encouragement, and accountability when it comes to their optimal health. These tips from Molle Toyota show why food journals work.

Focus and Accountability

A lack of focus takes many forms. They include hamburgers, hot dogs, Twinkies, cheesecake, and McGriddles. A lack of focus thrives in an environment with no goals--long-term and short-term goals are necessary to defeat the most notorious weight-loss enemies. Even those who set goals can lose focus because they don’t hold themselves accountable. Keeping a food journal offers an easy way to remind yourself of your goals--be it losing a certain amount of weight, cutting out a certain food, or eating more fruits and vegetables--and holding yourself accountable.

Choices and Encouragement

Focus and accountability, to many, come across as negative and authoritarian. Not true. Making yourself accountable by writing down what you eat actually encourages you to make wiser food choices, especially if you write it down before you eat it. For example, your non-supportive roommate/husband/brother-in-law brings home a double whopper, large fries, and a milk shake. You’re hungry. Option one: you eat it, ignoring the chicken caesar salad you already made for dinner; option two: you guiltily break out the food journal, write down double whopper, large fries, milk shake: 2200 calories, 153 grams of fat, one triple bypass surgery next month, scold your supportive roommate/husband/brother-in-law, and eat the chicken caesar salad.

If you choose option one, you feel like garbage for the next 17 hours. If you choose option two, you suffer for two minutes and feel great the rest of the day.

Progress and Adjustments

No significant goal--weight loss or otherwise--can be achieved without tracking progress and making adjustments. Keeping a food journal help do both. Tracking what you eat allows you to recognize and celebrate achievements. It also helps you reflect on what works and what doesn’t. A food journal can also serve as a record to share with your health provider or personal trainer.

The Real Cause of Overeating

Think about the last time you overate (for most, it’s not that long ago). Did you do it because you were incredibly hungry? Because you were on the brink of death? Because you suffered from malnutrition? Most of the time, the cause of overeating is not physical--it’s emotional. Keeping a food journal attacks the root of the problem in two ways:

  1. It creates a delay between the moment you think, "Gee, I sure could go for a fifth fudgesicle" and the actual eating of the fifth fudgesicle, allowing you to gain control of your emotions
  2. It allows you to recognize emotions that trigger excessive eating.

Start your food journal today. If you keep up with it, it’ll have you feeling better in no time.