I started food journaling this last year. I was on one of those New Year health kicks and wanted to start dieting and keeping track of my calories. A friend of mine introduced me to an app called MyPlate. It’s a food tracking app that helps you set goals for yourself. It not only tracks your calories, but also tracks your carbohydrates, protein and fat intake based on your goals. Sticking to it in the beginning was pretty easy, but fell off the wagon (like most new year resolutions do) around mid March.
I still tried to eat healthy and regularly went to the gym, but it wasn’t until we started talking about a possible food journaling article for the magazine that I picked it back up again. I began taking the journaling seriously around the beginning of July. I’m 29-year- old, 5-foot-4, 140-pound female. My overall goal is to lose about 10-15 lbs. My weekly goal is to lose 1-2 pounds each week. After setting up my information in the app, I was given a guide to follow to achieve my goals. I have a 1,200 calorie allowance each day (it also accounts for calories burned once you log them). I am able to eat 40 grams of fat, 120 grams of carbs, and 90 grams of protein each day. In following this strict regimen, I found that there are both pros and cons to recording everything that you eat:
- You are held accountable for what you are eating. If I woke up and ate a bunch of carbs in the morning, then I had to make a conscious effort to eat more fats and proteins throughout the day.
- I began to pay closer attention to labels, and I read EVERYTHING now. I learned that a lot of foods are not as healthy or lean as I thought they were.
- It has helped me develop more self-discipline. For example, if I know that I only have 300 calories left in the day at 5 p.m., and I’m eyeballing that candy bar at the checkout, then I basically can’t eat anything for the rest of the night if I choose to go down that rabbit hole. So, I reluctantly pull myself from the abyss and turn the other cheek.
- I started planning meals more. I’ll plan my meals based on the carb, fat and protein breakdown. That way it’s not a surprise when I reach any of my limits.
- It’s time consuming. I had to measure out everything that I ate or cooked, and I had to record everything every single time I ate. Yes, even that Starburst that I ate after lunch. I began to find it easier to track my daily meals in the morning to save time, then track snacks throughout the day.
- It made me feel guilty. Sometimes I would either forget to keep track, or I was too embarrassed to track what I ate because I know I shouldn’t have been eating it.
- The calorie allowance decreases quickly, so you really have to be smart about when and what you eat.
- The weekends are basically a free for all. I barely even looked at the app on the weekends. I felt like if I recorded on the weekend the app would just be so disappointed in me. Like, I’m having fun and living my life, can you please stop judging me for a second?
In a nutshell:
While recording what you eat can be time consuming and make you feel guilty for eating certain things, I think the overall experience has been worth it, and I am definitely continuing keeping up with it. I have been able to lose about 5 pounds in a month in a half with the combined effort of food journaling and going to the gym 3-4 days a week. I’m sure I would have lost more if I weren’t living my best life on the weekends. But hey, life is about balance, right?