What I Learned From My Food Journal

For the past month and a half, I have kept an online food journal with my best friend via a shared Google Doc. Her wedding is coming up (7 weeks and counting!!) and we both want to look our best. I mean these pictures are going to live forever.

We decided to start a food journal to keep each other accountable, to give each other ideas and to stay on track. And now that I’ve done the tracking, like Carrie Underwood, I have gained insights into food triggers, what works for me and a good plan for the future.

I thought I’d share what I’ve learned and would love to hear if you’ve ever kept a food journal or any weight loss tips in the comments below.

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Preparation is key. If I’m prepared, I definitely make smarter choices. Making overnight oats, for example, is so easy and I start the day on a healthy note. If I don’t make something for breakfast the day before on days when I go into the office, then I tend to grab a sugar-filled granola bar or a butter pretzel at the local bakery just because I’m hungry and have nothing. As far as snacks go, I also need to be prepared. Once a week I cut up celery and peppers to eat as snacks on the go and is much healthier than chips I tend to reach for when I’m starving and feel like I have nothing to eat.

Carbs are my weakness. I love carbs, carbs, carbs. I have noticed that if I have carbs at night, I wake up feeling much hungrier and then end up eating more carbs the next day. After I realized this, I started substituting pasta for red lentil pasta or gluten free pasta and you know what? I don’t really miss it! And now when I’m out at restaurant and really craving pasta, I get it because it’s a “cheat” meal and totally worth it. When I don’t have carbs at night, I wake up with a flat(er) stomach and feel healthier and ready to tackle the day.

I eat a lot of sugar. I never realized how much sugar I was actually consuming. If I had two coffees, I would have 4 teaspoons of sugar, just in the coffee alone. I do eat a lot of fruit, which is healthy, but contains sugar. I also love a piece of chocolate at the end of the night, but I couldn’t have just one piece. Since I’ve started tracking my food, I could see that I had some sugar earlier in the day and would opt out for chocolate at night. When I don’t have sugar in the morning and then I crave it at night, I don’t feel as bad if I give in. Also, I have found that when I do eat sugar, I end up eating more throughout the day and feeling hungrier. Since sugar doesn’t have any nutritional value, it gets digested quickly and is why you have a sugar crash. All in all I’m trying to be better about sugar and haven’t put any in my coffee all week. I want to stay away from added sugar as much as possible.

Good choices in the morning bring good choices at night. When I make smart decisions right out of the gate, I tend to stick with it throughout the day because I don’t want to “mess up” a day or I want to keep the momentum going. But when I have chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, it’s much easier to chalk it up to cheat day and just continue down that path. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I want to continue to eat things that are going to fuel me for the day and start it off on a healthy foot.

Mindset is everything. I definitely think about what I eat more now because I am forced to write it down. If I am in the mindset that eating healthy is good for me, my mind and my soul, then it is easier to make healthy choices. Of course, while on vacation or for a celebration, I’ll indulge in a piece of cake or something. You only live once. But overall, having a healthy mindset keeps me focused on my goals and moving forward.

All in all, keeping a food journal has helped me realize that I reach for unhealthy foods when I’m not prepared, when I’m out and about or when I have an unhealthy mindset. It has helped me stay focused, to realize my goals and to live an overall healthier life. I will definitely continue to use my online food journal at least until my friend’s wedding. It has become part of my day and I don’t even think about it.

Have you ever kept a food journal? How do you live a healthy life?

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