Quick! Tell me everything you ate last week! No? How about yesterday? OK, your last meal?
Many of us can barely remember what we eat in a single day, let alone an entire week, or whether or not we drank enough water and ate enough good clean food. We also tend to forget about the “habit” foods we eat such as the creamer in your coffee and the mini candy bar off your co-workers desk you grab everyday at 3pm as you walk by. Food habits are common, and can unintentionally sabotage even the most dedicated.
There are many tips and tricks I have up my sleeve when it comes to helping my clients lose weight, but the two biggest (and easiest) things that can help both keep you accountable and keep your calories in check is a food journal and a food scale.
Keeping a food journal where you record everything you eat or drink (including water) will keep you honest with yourself, and help you identify the strengths and weaknesses in your diet. For those who have emotional attachments to food, recording your emotions, and even events that preceded your emotional reaction, can have a profound effect on curbing comfort eating.
Knowing what an actual portion size looks like is key to adding variety to your diet and keeping calories in check. For example, knowing what an ounce of potato chips actually looks like in your hands (about a single, rounded handful) will keep you from chowing down half a bag and calling it an ounce (in reality a bag can be anywhere from 2-4 ounces). It may also prevent those of you self-punishers from beating yourself up when you realize that you only had about 150-200 calories and not the 600+ you imagined.
Portion size knowledge also makes the scary concept of 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables seem less daunting when you discover that 1 medium banana is actually 2 servings of fruit and 1 serving (2 cups) of raw leafy greens fits in both of your palms placed together.
I recommend getting a small scale which, while is not necessary to use every day, will help you to visualize correct portion sizes.
Coupled together, documenting what you eat in either a food journal or online app and knowing correct portion sizes will help you monitor what you eat, exercise self control and master the art of a balanced, nutritious and rewarding diet.