Last night Jon asked me if I was going to be putting big numbers up this Wednesday. I couldn't evade the question fast enough. I still haven't gotten into a routine where you could describe my gym-going as anything but sporadic and I'm still on an "eat-all-things" diet. I've been trying to eat a lot healthier when I'm at home, but I still find myself going out to eat a lot with friends, and just grabbing things when I'm in a rush. I've been grocery shopping a lot more often, trying to keep a lot of vegetables and low calories snacks in the house to help the impulse bingeing. I think the problem here is awareness.
Jon gave me this idea. It's not something I haven't tried before, but it's worth another go. A food log. Food logs are a great idea for anyone just starting out. They are really great for people, like me, that are in complete denial about how poorly their eating habits are. I'm really not looking to revolutionize my diet, or go low-carb or no-carb or anything crazy, but I am concerned with portion size. I'm going to try it out and let ya'll know how it goes, and I'll really try hard not to lie.
I wanted to hijack Adrienne's post and run with it a little bit. Keeping a food log, or diary is a great way to really look at what you put in your body each day. The tricky part is to actually do it, and consistently do it. It is pretty easy to forget all day long and then have to spend a while each night trying to enter in what you ate, which in my honest opinion is a waste of time. The power of a food log comes when it helps you make informed decisions BEFORE you eat something. Punishing yourself by entering in data at the end of the day does nothing but reduce your confidence in yourself of being able to make good decisions.
What I want to suggest is that if you do keep a food log, which I highly suggest everyone do, try to actively maintain it to the best of your ability all day long. That way you can see what you have eaten, and make informed decisions about what else you have room for when the next meal arrives. If I look back at my log and see that I had a larger than normal breakfast, I'll try to figure out how to reduce my intake for lunch, or have a light dinner. Really, there are three keys to a successful food log:
- Simplicity - "Keep it simple stupid" has been my M.O since I started programming. As the more complex a program gets, the harder it is to maintain and fix. Keep your food log as simple as you possible can. If all you do is write down calories and not bother with all of the actual food, that is totally fine.
- Make it easy to access - The trick to a good food log, as suggested above, is to actively maintain it. Excel sheets are great, but you need to be able to make informed decisions all day long. If you have a smart phone, there are a ton of easy apps. If you don't, a small pad and paper work great to keep totals as you go, or even just a folded piece of paper in your back pocket. The trick is to keep it with you so you actually do it.
- Don't beat yourself up - You know you have a bad day or two, don't let that get to you. The problem with keeping track is that you actually see what you are putting into your body, and it can be pretty discouraging. Just power through it and keep the log going.
Food logs are a great tool if done right, but they can also be pretty discouraging. Just keep it up to date, and use it to make good decisions, rather than to punish yourself. Do that, and the pounds will melt away.
An added benefit to keeping a food log is it provides the opportunity to decide if something is really worth eating, knowing that you HAVE to write it down. Knowing every morsel you put in your mouth must be accounted for makes you think twice before you chow down. It also helps you to look at where you can cut down. Knowing for example, that your worst time for eating is when you first get home after work, helps you to think of ways to counter act that craving with either a planned healthy snack or a walk outside instead. Just don’t do what a friend did and write chicken every time she ate anything bad!
Bahaha! All of yesterday would be “chicken” for me, then.
When I eat poorly I just skip logging it in the food log. Such a bad habit! But it’s always after doing really well during the day. I log everything until dinner and then I get crazy. Like I said, bad habit. 😛
Another helpful tool is writing down why you are eating-hungry,social event, bordom, sad, etc. and do not forget that liguids also get written down- those lattes, beers etc ! Then you
might see a pattern emerge over the weeks of journaling.