I’ve used food tracking and journaling on and off for over a year in my weight loss journey. It is a technique I use with my clients to figure out where they are in their current nutrition, to keep them on track, and to make recommendations and adjustments where necessary. It also helps us understand not only what we’re eating, but why we’re eating. Tracking and journaling has had a tremendous impact on my relationship with food.
A recent study published by the University of Vermont in Burlington just demonstrated that it is a valuable tool in weight loss success, and though it sounds time consuming, it takes less than 15 minutes a day.
The study looked at over 100 people on a low-calorie diet, exercising for 200 minutes a week and tracking how much they ate over a 6 month period. The more meals tracked per day, the more successful the weight loss.
The study reinforced that food tracking:
- Helps people identify food patterns
- Encouraged people to modify their daily eating. For instance if someone had a large calorie lunch, she ate a lower calorie dinner
- Tracking helps discourage extra snacks
The image below demonstrates Food Tracking 101. When tracking your food, it is best to do it before you eat your food, especially when using photos to track. Measuring and weighing your food is a more advanced and time-consuming method so I don’t use it with everyone. However I really love this technique as I learned to better eyeball restaurant portions because of my efforts at home. And finally if you are tracking your food in an App, a general rule-of-thumb is to overestimate the calories as nutrition facts labels are allowed to be off by 20%. And most more likely than not the items have more calories than listed on the label.
Do you track your food or have you ever tried it? What results did you find?