Weight loss programs help you control your calories, but what will help you control and change the emotions and habits that led to your weight problem in the first place?
A diet journal can help you get to the root of your relationship with food, and the issues or situations that cause binging or stress eating. It can also be a way of tracking your progress, motivating yourself when your weight loss program starts becoming tedious or frustrating, and recording useful weight loss tips. Here’s how to start one.
1. What is a diet journal?
Think of your diet journal as your portable diet buddy—a safe place to pour out your feelings, record your thoughts, and store useful facts or inspiring quotes and images.
You can use any notebook you want. We recommend that you pick one that is small enough to fit into your purse or briefcase, but large enough to stick useful clippings or articles.
2. Write your diet goals
In your first entry, write down your diet goals, and why you want to go on a diet. Use positive language. Don’t say “I hate being fat.” Instead say, “I want the freedom to buy and wear the clothes I like.” Try to be as concrete as possible about your weight loss goals too. “Lose 10 pounds” or “Lower my cholesterol level to ____.”
End the entry with a pep talk for yourself. Talk about why you deserve to reach these weight loss goals, and how it’ll improve your quality of life. Cut and paste pictures that represent that healthy lifestyle. Refer to this page whenever you feel discouraged.
3. Write down your weight loss program.
What’s your battle plan? Write down meal plans, practical tips. If you’re not sure about which weight loss program to pick, then use your diet journal to record and review your options (ex: Jenny Craig, Slimfast, Raw Food diet, etc.)
As you write down your weight loss program, anticipate any obstacles or blocks you may encounter. It’s better to confront your apprehensions now, and proactively look for ways to make your weight loss program work, than to plunge ahead and then quit from frustration.
4. Record your food intake and eating patterns
Your food journal can help you track any eating habits that could sabotage your weight loss program. For example, do you tend to binge after a fight with your husband? Or do you buy fatty takeout because you’re too tired to cook? Identifying your eating patterns can help you actively avoid “diet traps.” For example, you can focus on making a healthy meal plan, so you’re not tempted to buy pizza because you don’t know what to cook for dinner. (If you have a habit of quitting and starting diets, check out our article on how to stop yo-yo dieting.)
5. Celebrate every victory, even the small ones.
Don’t obsess over the weighing scale and counting pounds. Look for all the little victories in your weight loss program, praising yourself for a job well done! For example, today’s entry could be: “I went out with friends and ordered a turkey sandwich even when everyone else was eating steaks.”
6. Vent frustrations.
Your diet journal is a safe place for you to release even the negative emotions. It’s better to “let it all out” on a page instead of suppressing it and then blowing up later! Plus, you’re more likely to binge if you are upset. Writing it down is a healthier outlet—and you’ll be too busy holding a pen to hold a potato chip!
7. Fill your diet journal with helpful tips and inspiring thoughts
Copy a delicious, low fat recipe you saw on TV. Write down quotes, or paste pictures that motivate you. Record any tips or suggestions from friends from your weight loss group that you’d like to try. Look for helpful research or facts (like foods that boost metabolism, best rated diet pills, or how l-carnitine can help with weight loss). Treat your food diary as a weight loss coach, motivating you and teaching you better ways to manage your diet.
Photo from alwaysthefriendneverthegf.wordpress.com