I first started logging my food over a year ago, in March of 2014. It worked really well - for a while. I lost 30 pounds between March and November, and then over the holidays, I didn't regain any weight. But in the first few months of this year, I've put back on about eight pounds. Definitely not the direction I want to be headed in.
I am still logging my food, but not as carefully as I was was. Some days, I wait to log everything until the end, which not only keeps me in the dark about how I'm doing, but also surely leads to forgetting to log something here or there.
The other major difference between what I'm doing and what I was doing last year is that I'm not running as much. But for now, I'm going to focus on logging my foods accurately again.
One study, cited by WebMD, found that adults who logged their food six or more days a week lost twice as much weight as those who only logged one day. Tracking what you eat can affect everything from food choices to portion sizes. It wasn't long after I started keeping track that I completely gave up sitting on the couch with a bag of potato chips. I'm also less likely to bring candy home.
Keeping a food journal has made me much more aware of how many calories are in my meals. I keep my diary, more or less, even when I'm not eating well. It's especially difficult when I dine out at non-chain restaurants. To some extent, I guess at the calories based on how full I feel, but that's imprecise. It works best when I'm eating foods I've prepared at home. Although sometimes a little guessing goes into that, too, at least I know there's not a stick of butter hidden in the vegetables.
Food portioning, however, has gotten away from me. When I first started, if I bought a bag of chips, I immediately portioned them out into bags containing individual servings. No guessing there. I weighed things I made, to get a better idea what I was eating. Now, I grab a handful and assume I ate a portion. I'm sure we both know that's probably not working.
Also, I haven't been figuring out the exact calorie counts on the baked good we've made. For example, I used numbers already in MyFitnessPal and came up with 215 per bun. But this morning, I entered all the ingredients in this calculator and came up with 267. Not a huge difference, but significant if you eat in thee in one day (I don't recommend that, by the way, but this recipe with three extra tablespoons of oil is really good). Clearly, I should be doing those calculations for everything I make.
My challenge this week will be weigh and measure everything I can, and to enter it all into MyFitnessPal as soon as I eat it. That's the app I've used from the beginning and it works well, so I haven't tried any others, but here's a Live Science article about the Best Calorie Counter App with some other options (although MFP is their first choice, too).
I know there are all kinds of sources saying we don't need to log foods. I've tried those approaches, too, including eating only whole foods and eating low-carb/paleo most of the time. The problem for me with those is that I can't keep it up. And if I don't follow those diets 90% of the time, it doesn't work.
I will be weighing and calculating like a fool this week. :) Eric is going to join me, so that will make it easier.
Do you keep a food log or otherwise monitor your calories? How do you go about it and how does it work for you? I'd love to hear more ideas for making this work.
Week 34: Diet - Food Logging