food journals

Do You Still Need a Food Journal?

FLogg Journal

Even after you lose weight, it’s a good idea to keep a food journal. Why? Because it prevents you from slipping back into your old habits–the ones that caused you to gain all that weight you worked so hard to take off!

You don’t have to keep a journal every day or every week but it’s a good idea to write down what you eat for a few days each month. Keep a reminder on your calendar. Or, if you’re sitting waiting somewhere, take out a piece of paper or your smart phone and just jot down what you had to eat that day or the previous day.

Writing down what you eat has several benefits. One, you see patterns starting to form. Are you starting to eat more fried foods? Drinking more high calorie beverages? Two, you have to think about portion sizes. Did you have one cup of cereal at breakfast or did you just fill the bowl and not think about it? And three, it makes you count those little bites that you would rather not think about, like that chicken nugget you stole from your son’s plate or those fries your daughter didn’t finish.

So if you’ve lost the weight and tossed your food journal aside, consider getting it out again. It’s not just for dieters. It’s a useful tool for anyone trying to eat a healthy diet or maintain their weight.

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, foodnuti.com. She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.


How to Break Through a Weight Loss Wall

We’ve all been there. You’re working out and eating right, but suddenly the number on the scale isn’t moving down anymore. It’s just standing still. As the Avaglianos enter their last challenge they may find they’ve hit this weight loss wall. It’s very common and extremely discouraging, but there’s a reason for it. Perhaps the first big drop in weight was mostly water or your metabolism has slowed down. It’s even likely that now that you weigh less, you are burning fewer calories.

No matter what the case, don’t get discouraged because other changes may be happening. You may be losing inches and not pounds—which is just as important. Also you’re eating better and exercising so your overall health is going to be improved.

To get back on the weight-loss track, though, you’ll have to make some adjustments. Consider boosting your workouts (either in length or intensity) to burn more calories. Alternately, you may need to lower the number of calories you are taking in. Finally, make sure your weight loss goals are realistic. After all, if you can’t maintain the weight loss you’re striving for, there’s probably no point in losing it in the first place.

Registered dietician Elizabeth Fassberg runs Eat Food, a New York City-based company that designs and delivers custom food and nutrition programs for businesses, organizations and individuals. She’s coaching the Avagliano family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.


The Most Important Detail For Your Food Journal

FLogg Journal

Food diaries may seem tedious—especially after doing one for 5 months as the Avaglianos have—but they are key to keeping you accountable for what you are eating. According to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics researchers found that people who kept a food diary were more likely to lose weight than those who do not. They work for three simple reasons:

  1. If you have to write down eating a “bad” food, then you’re less likely to eat it.
  2. If you’re not losing weight, you can see why. You may even notice that maybe you aren’t recording all of those in between little snacks you’ve been having.
  3. If you are losing weight, then you’re doing something right and you can refer to your journal to see behaviors you need to increase.

You don’t need a special format for your journal just a small notebook that you can easily take with you or if you prefer, an online program or even a spreadsheet on your computer, that also works as well.

One key detail I recommend people write down when they note foods consumed: their mood. Sometimes it helps address other reasons you’re eating besides hunger. It’s also important to write down all of the beverages consumed because many unnecessary calories come from drinks and not food.

At the end of each week, review what you’ve written down; it will help you to figure out what you’re doing wrong or what you’re doing right!

Registered dietician Elizabeth Fassberg runs Eat Food, a New York City-based company that designs and delivers custom food and nutrition programs for businesses, organizations and individuals. She’s coaching the Avagliano family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.


8 Food Journal Red Flags

FLogg Journal

With free, easy-to-navigate food journals all over the web, many people use them all the time now. But doing this is only helpful if you actually review what you put in the journal! I reminded Tiffany of this just the other day. She’s diligent about keeping her online food journal up to date, but she doesn’t always go back and look at it.

My advice to her was to review her journal weekly. Here are some things that Tiffany—and everyone—should look for when reviewing their food journal.

1. Check for any patterns in your diet. Do you tend to snack more at work than at home? Do you snack on certain foods right before bed, like ice cream or potato chips? These can indicate that you’re eating out of habit or boredom rather than hunger.

2. Does your diet change when things get stressful? Review your journal from a stressful week and then compare it with one from a less stressful week and note any changes.

3. Are you eating mostly whole grain foods, such as whole wheat breads, cereals and pastas? Or are you eating more refined grains, such as white bread, white rice or pasta, and sugary cereals or snack bars?

4. How often do you eat out each week? What types of places do you eat at most often? What types of foods do you order? How can you cut back on dining out?

5. How much water do you drink? What other liquids are you drinking?

6. Do you tend to eat more prepackaged, processed foods than whole, unprocessed foods? Time to make a switch.

7. Count up the number of fruits/vegetables you had each day. Many people think they eat far more fruits and vegetables than they actually do.

8. Do you see anything missing in your food journal? Small bites eaten throughout the day can add up to weight gain over time so be sure you’re writing down everything—from those two Hershey’s Kisses you had to those lollipops—you eat.

When you’re done reviewing your journal, make a list of goals for improving your diet. Setting goals and regularly looking at your food intake will make recording what you eat each day worth the time and effort.

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, foodnuti.com. She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.