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Do You Know Exactly What You Ate Today?
As I sit here pondering what I ate today, remembering all three meals and two snacks, I think to myself, "I ate well today." And I did. But then I remember that I didn't count that handful of dried fruit and nuts—actually, two handfuls of dried fruits and nuts—that I mindlessly ate while driving. Not being present and mindful while eating can cause people to forget what they ate and/or make what they ate seem like it "doesn't count."
Each day Americans are eating more than they think they are. How often in one day do we think to ourselves, "it won't hurt if I have just one of the cupcakes that my co-worker brought into the office," or, "it's only a couple pieces of candy from the candy bowl." And then there is the denial that sometimes comes with mindless eating: "I didn't really eat those French fries that I grabbed off my child's plate, because no one saw me do it."
It's easy to forget all of the things that go into our mouths each day, including what we drink. One way to way to stay present and on top of what you're eating is by keeping a food log. Food logs serve several purposes. They make you more accountable for what you are eating or not eating. They help you to see in black and white exactly what you are consuming each day and how changing what you eat can give you the results that you want, whether it is to feel, sleep or look better. You can also use a food log to monitor how you feel before and after you eat, helping you identify if and when you are emotionally eating. The act of writing down what you eat at every meal and snack, including all those bites along the way, helps to shed light and bring awareness to your habits around food as well as any eating patterns that you weren't aware of or that you were avoiding. Finally, a food log can help you to hone in on any foods that you think you are allergic to or not tolerating well.
Every bite, taste, lick and sip counts and they all add up when it comes to calories. Not being aware of how much you are eating is most often the culprit when it comes to not seeing the scale budge or, worse, seeing the scale go up. Keeping a food log can make a big difference when it comes to keeping the pounds at bay or trying to take the pounds off. Research has shown that people are more apt to eat better when they are keeping a food log. In a recent study by the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, participants who kept food logs lost almost double the weight than people who did not.
There are many different resources to guide you on how to keep a food log: a doctor, nutritionist or weight-loss group to name a few. There are also many different ways to keep a food log: online, with a pen and paper, with lots of detail or just the necessary basics. There are even food log applications for your smartphone! There is no wrong or right way to keep a food log. The ultimate goal is all the same: to help bring mindfulness and personal accountability when it comes to what you are eating each day, helping you live a healthier life.