Food Logs: A Foundation To Honesty

Tired of the Food Log?

Over the last 30 years every time I ever started a weight loss program I was told how important a food log was. I never believed it. Of course, I’m old enough that keeping a food log meant using a notebook and pen back in the day. But today’s we don’t have the same concerns:  there are numerous online programs and apps that can make food logging simple, fast and easy!

I always started food journaling with the best of intentions and I would usually end up with about 3 days of solid records and then for the next 3 days it would be one meal here and another meal there. A week later I would have lost the whole log book and forgotten all about it.

Food Logs: Required for TV

Then came Biggest Loser. By my best recollection, we were asked to show up with a few weeks of food logs. We were told that if we didn’t arrive with them we would be asked to leave. For the first time I really labored to keep a food log and I succeeded. I remember that one of the drinks I would purchase at Starbucks was what I now would call a Frapa-heart-attack!  I had no idea this one beverage was so calorie laden - after adding all my special things to it the result was one drink that was over 1000 calories! I discovered I was drinking half my calories each day, and that I was eating so much more than I realized.

How important is a food log to Biggest Loser? Keeping a computerized food log was part of the contract I signed to be on the show. Basically, it was a major part of my journey on the program and still is a daily activity for me. The only days I might miss are days when I’m traveling, but even then I try to log.

Five Reasons a Food Log Is Important to Weight Loss

1. Food logs allow you to track what you eat.

I was that very large person that used to tell people that I really didn’t eat that much. I was lying to myself and didn’t really know it until that log was staring me in the face. I very quickly realized that about 85% of my diet was starches and meat. I would tell people that I loved salad which meant that I ate a salad once a week.

Having a record of what you have eaten will help you see how you eat and if you overeat.

2. Food logs establish what we need to add to our meal plan.

In our modern culture we are eating more and more calories with less and less nutrition. Essentially, we are eating but our body is starving for the nutrients it needs to be healthy.

As we evaluate our log, we can identify the foods we need to add to our plan to balance out our nutrition. The opposite of this is also true—we can also identify the foods we need to eliminate from our plan.

3. Food logs help us establish portion control.

Many of us eat fairly healthy but we eat more than we need. Logging our food makes us aware of how much we are eating. For me, just writing down what I was eating helped me eat less. For us to be able to log our food proportionally, it is essential that we measure what we eat.

4. Food logs aid in identifying emotional eating triggers.

Eating to cope with stress rather than to fuel our body is emotional eating. We eat to make ourselves feel better. Many overweight people are that way because they use food to cope with emotions and stress. A food log can help identify what exactly triggered the desire to eat.

Did the desire to eat come on suddenly? What precipitated the sudden desire to eat? Are there certain times of day that we are tempted to eat something without really feeling physical hunger? What is the trigger? Is there someone that causes us stress that we find ourselves reaching for chips after hanging up the phone with him or her? For the emotional eater, triggers can take many forms. When we identify them, just the awareness can be a deterrent.

5. Food logs encourage us to stay on track.

Just the nature of logging our food helps to keep us on track. Studies have demonstrated this: people who log their food lose 50% more than those who don’t.

Even when we succumb to a food temptation, if we continue to log that day we can get right back on track rather than allowing ourselves to indulge the entire day or for the rest of the week. Many times I find that just writing down what I’m eating helps me stay on track.