Keep a food journal over the holidays, your waistline will thank you!

Keeping a food journal is recommended and proven to help you shed pounds, or in the case of the holidays – prevent them. We’re not suggesting you skip the stuffing and pumpkin pie but be mindful of your portions and track how much you’re eating. Remember, by cheating your food journal, you’re cheating yourself. Properly tracking the amount you eat, what you’re eating and when you eat it will allow you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your diet and eating habits over the holiday season. To avoid gaining 10 pounds this holiday season, follow these tips and let the good times roll.

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Choose your journal. Find a journal that you can make your own, one that gets you excited about tracking your progress. Using an online food journal increases your chance for success as it allows you to document your food intake in real time, wherever you are.

Establish a routine. Get into the habit of tracking what you eat and how much you’re eating immediately after you eat, while all the information is fresh in your mind. You will forget the lunch time lattes or the after dinner snack if you don’t record it right away. By tracking your consumption immediately you’re also teaching your brain to associate eating, which can often be a thoughtless task, with consciously being aware of what you’re putting in your body.

Spill the beans. Your food journal needs ALL the details. Everything you eat must be recorded. Every… single… thing. You had cranberries with your turkey? Record it. You went extra heavy on the gravy? Record it. You couldn’t resist a second serving of mashed potatoes? You get the idea. You’ll likely find that you’re adding unnecessary calories to your diet which are making your pants feel a little snug.

Be honest with yourself. Be honest about your eating habits. Your food journal is a safe, judgement-free zone for you to record your dietary journey. When used properly, your food journal will assist you in recognizing what your habits are and the mistakes you could be making. The holidays are filled with delicious temptations, be on the lookout for particularly unhealthy patterns and try to find healthy alternatives.

The date, time and location are important. Why? Well, by documenting the day you ate something, when you ate it and where you were, you can easily identify when your eating habits are at their worst. Perhaps you binge eat at 2 o’clock because you skipped breakfast. Or maybe you had leftover apple crumble for breakfast because it was calling your name. Review your entries and ask yourself; are you skipping meals? Are you eating too much before bed? Are you more likely to grab something unhealthy because you’re in a rush? Whatever your habits are, recognizing them will allow you to make better decisions to target your problem areas.

Pay attention to who you’re with and how you feel. Acknowledging your feelings when you’re documenting your food intake can sometimes result in some pretty interesting discoveries. Some people consciously or subconsciously turn to eating as a way of coping with different emotions. While the holidays are a happy time, they can also stir up other emotions. Anger, frustration, boredom, depression and feeling stressed are very different emotions, but they are all known to encourage people to eat more. By monitoring your moods and who you’re with, you may be able to identify triggers and work on ways to conquer them.

Understand your sources of calories. We all have our go-to grocery store items and rarely consider the effect they’ll have on our waistline. Even ‘healthy’ foods can do more harm than good when not monitored properly. Your food journal will help you keep track of your ingested calories, protein, carbohydrates, fat and sugars. By having a better understanding of what you’re eating, you’ll be able to make healthier choices. Consider making your holiday menu a healthy one.

Re-evaluate portion sizes. With a deeper understanding of what a balanced diet looks like, you will be able to determine what your portion sizes should actually be and what they should be made up of. Your food journal can extend long after the holidays. After a few weeks of monitoring your calories and portion sizes, your food journal will prove to be a valuable personal menu which will help keep you on track and will make meal planning easier.

Keep a fitness journal. Physical activity is important. The more exercise you can commit to the better. However, even 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise will accelerate the weight loss process and give you more energy throughout the day. A fitness journal is a great tool to help you monitor the physical activity you’ve done throughout the day. Your fitness journal is complimentary to your food journal as it identifies the amount of calories you’ve burned which can be deducted from those you’ve ingested. Some people choose to include their physical activity in their food journal. Do what’s best for you, as long as your behaviors are accounted for.

Set goals and stay positive. It is so important to remain positive. Your food journal will be exciting at first but can eventually seem like a chore if you lose motivation which can result in you feeling pessimistic about the situation. Do something that makes you happy every day, set goals and establish rewards that will keep you inspired throughout your weight loss journey.

Hold yourself accountable. Documenting your food choices is a great start. Seeing everything you’ve eaten throughout the day can be eye opening. Be mindful of your eating habits, whereabouts, emotional state and physical activity and make appropriate decisions with what you’re discovering. Make a plan to improve your poor decisions and reward yourself for your progress. Remember, YOU are in control.

You’ll notice that by keeping a food journal, your habits will change and so will the way you look at food. Your food journal will encourage you to look at the quality of food you’re eating and how they’re affecting you. Once you’re in the habit of keeping a holiday food journal, why not maintain it throughout the year? You will feel better internally and will see results externally too. Start your free online food journal today by signing up to JRNL and fight off those 10 pounds with ease.

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