Friday, November 5, 2010

Keeping (on) track

I know I’ve written about keeping a food journal before, but there’s no harm in mentioning it again – it is helpful; it can help pinpoint poor choices or overconsumption of particular food groups. I stopped tracking for a while and picked up a couple of pounds, so I’m back to keeping track – and measuring my portions!

There’s nothing like tracking to keep you on track… there’s something conscience-pricking about holding yourself accountable for the food choices you make. Research has shown that people who write down everything they eat and drink each day lose more weight… and keep it off. Yes, it takes a bit of time and effort but, in the interests of losing or maintaining weight while eating healthily, isn’t it worth it?

Write down:
What you ate – even if it was a poor choice. At least you can review it and recognize whether it was the best choice you could have made, given the circumstances.
How much you ate – estimates are okay, but be honest! Always over- rather than under-estimate; we usually think we are eating less than we really are. This can provide a guide to the calories / kilojoules you’re consuming.
Why you ate – hungry, bored, unhappy, lonely, meal time, whatever. Hungry is the best reason – your body is giving you information. We tend to eat at ‘mealtimes’ for the convenience of others, rather than ourselves; if hunger coincides with a meal time, so much the better. Any other reason for eating is likely an indication that you are an emotional eater.
What time of day you ate – breakfast should be eaten before 8:00am, dinner no later than 7:00pm (especially if this is your main meal of the day). Fit lunch and snacks in when you feel the need (hunger).
Who you were with – work colleagues, family, friend, alone. When we eat alone, we tend to eat too fast – slow down and enjoy what you’re eating. Other people at the table can be a distraction so that we eat more than we intended to.
What else you were doing – reading, watching TV, working. Didn’t our mothers always tell us that ‘reading at the table is impolite’? Reading, watching TV or working while eating detracts from the pleasure of the meal – and you may eat larger portions, too.

Remember to jot down everything you drink – tea, coffee, cold drinks, alcohol – these provide ‘empty’ calories with no nutritional value; water is the best anytime beverage.

Keep a food journal for at least a week, and then review it… it will make interesting reading.

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