How Keeping a Food Journal Can Help You Lose Weight

how to use a food journal to lose weight
(Last Updated On: October 22, 2019)

You should never underestimate the power of perception. And something as basic as keeping a food journal for weight loss is one of the most effective ways you can expand your vision on a healthier life.

Up until now, there are many individuals who have discovered that keeping track of what they eat can help them to make better choices, especially when weight loss has become a priority.

And let’s be honest, anything that can help to reach a target weight in a healthy manner deserves to be entertained.

Why Keeping a Journal is Helpful for Weight Loss

a journal is a great way to keep track of a guy's weight loss

Before getting into some tips on how to keep a food journal for weight loss, you should understand why it can ultimately help.

You see, just assuming it will aid you on your journey and hoping something will magically happen is not the approach you should be using.

Instead, you want to create a food journal with purpose. And this purpose should be to pay more attention to the things you put in your mouth.

Just like a personal diary is considered a form of therapy and a dream journal a source of spiritual discovery, a food journal can help you understand why you are not reaching your target weight.

So, if you decide to create one, stay consistent and keep it up to date as best you can.

And here are some suggestions on helping you get started.

How to Start Your Food Journal

1. Set Up A System

a woman writes in her food journal

The first thing you have to do is get a system in place. What will be the most comfortable and convenient way of keeping a food journal?

If you prefer modern tactics, you can download an app with a built-in template. But if you like things old-school, you can use a conventional pad and paper, then draw up columns you can easily fill in as you go.

In terms of what you should keep track of, it is recommended to enter the following in your food journal.

  • Date
  • Time
  • Place
  • Food and beverages
  • Quantities consumed
  • Anything else you deem valuable

As mentioned, you need to get meticulous if you really want the food journal to make a difference. If you skip entries or fill in the wrong information, you are just trying to fool yourself. Stay consistent and implement food journal entries into your routine.

2. The More Specific, The Better

a woman logs her food for the day so she can lose more weight

While it might make you look like a borderline maniac, really get specific with your journal. Because the more accurate details you add, the more effective the journal will be.

For instance, add every snack you have between meals, and yes, even when you test the food you are cooking.

Record every little thing you consume, no matter how insignificant it might seem at that moment.

The same goes for the beverages you drink. Every drop should be noted, along with the amount of water you get in. And after a week or two, you’ll thank yourself for going all “maniac” with your entries.

3. Get Informed

a food scale can be used to log your food too

A very important part of the food journal, especially if you are looking to lose weight, is the quantities you record.

Naturally, these have to be as accurate as possible, and merely judging from what you see is not the way to go.

The better option would be to invest in a scale and some measuring cups (assuming you cook your own meals).

For occasions when you go out to a restaurant, do an online search and find more information about specific places and their portion sizes/weight.

Essentially, the more you pay attention, the better you’ll be at estimating the quantities of the calories you consume.

4. The Importance Of Time, Date, And Place

You are probably wondering why these variables are important for the food journal? Why does it matter when and where you ate?

Keep in mind that losing weight is a total lifestyle change and not just a few adjustments in your eating habits. In other words, the time and places you are prone to eat fit into your lifestyle, which could need some tweaking if you want to get more control.

This is why you want to accurately take note of when and where you eat, seeing as it can reveal some valuable information.

5. Record The After-Effects

a woman is happy after eating healthy foods

That’s right, another entry in your food journal should be based on how you feel after eating something.

  • Did it change your mood?
  • And what about your energy levels?
  • Did you feel energized or sluggish?

Give your body and mind about 10 or 20 minutes to calculate what you’ve just consumed, and make that note in your journal.

This includes the physical side-effects, even if what you eat makes you sick to your stomach.

6. Actually Read Your Journal

a woman reading her weight loss journal

Now comes the magic, because this is when you start reading your journal.

It’s been a few weeks that you’ve been keeping meticulous track of your eating and drinking habits, and all that is left is to find a pattern.

Basically, you are holding up a mirror and you have to start being honest with yourself.

For example, do you constantly find yourself in situations where you overeat?

Maybe you snack too much between meals, or maybe your lunch portion is making you feel physically drained?

These are all possibilities that can jump out at you once you take a closer look at your habits. And now that you know where your weaknesses are, you can begin the process of changing them.

Diets That Can Help

the new weight watchers programs

Feeling lost? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! When it comes to losing weight, following a diet plan, and keeping a food journal, things can start to feel overwhelming in a hurry!

The good news is, there are plenty of programs out there than can help you stay on track.

While the good old fashioned pencil and paper food journal works great, there are some programs that utilize modern-day technology to help you journal as well.

The New Weight Watchers Digital program is just one that comes to mind. There are plenty of others out there, though, so be sure to search for a diet that’s going to work for you, and go from there.

Pretty much all of them have food journal apps built in at this point- you can see a list of them on our homepage – so just pick one that fits your needs and lifestyle and start your weight loss journey.

Some Final Advice

There are healthy and less healthy ways to reach your target weight, and keeping a food journal falls squarely into the former. It doesn’t require a trip to the doctor or a prescription, and the only costs involved is a little bit of your time.

But remember that you are running a marathon, not a race. Because losing the weight is probably easier than keeping it off, so prep yourself for permanent and healthy changes once your food journal gets its first entry.


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