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How Food Journaling Can Help You Lose Weight

As Americans, we have some problems with our eating habits. One of the most detrimental issues is our tendency to overeat. Portion sizes in the U.S. are huge in comparison to what our bodies actually need for a meal. Couple that with our need to clean a plate in order to not be wasteful and you have the perfect recipe for weight gain.

One of the best ways to keep the amount of food you consume in check is to use a food journal, which can be used in a couple of ways. There’s the old school way of jotting down what you eat in a notebook. This is a great way to get started, especially since it’s that time of year when school supplies are overflowing in stores. A little notebook — I opt for the smaller sized ones that fit nicely into a purse — cost no more than $1 this time of year. So grab one in your favorite color.

For each meal, write down what you had. Be as exact as possible in terms of quantity. This should help you become more aware of the amount of food you’re putting into your body. That mindless snacking will become more apparent, and you’ll notice if you’re tracking more carbs and not enough vegetables.

If you have a smartphone like most people do these days, you can download an app that allows you to more accurately track your food. Free apps like My Fitness Pal or FatSecret allow you to not only track what you’re eating, but to keep score of  the number of calories, grams of fat, carbs and proteins that you are consuming.

Other programs take food tracking to a new level by combining it with the goal of weight loss. Weight Watchers is a great example of a program that combines food journaling with the purpose of dropping pounds. As part of the paid subscription, you’re given an allotted amount of points to consume in a day. All food is given a certain number of points. Once you eat a meal, you enter it into the system which transfers the food you eat into points. The goal is to stay within the points you’re given and to not go over. This is a pretty fool-proof way to lose weight, to better learn portion control and to learn what’s good to eat. If you’re determined to lose weight, signing up for a program like this will definitely get you there, as long as you stick to the guidelines given. There are even more benefits to this program as well, such as the community of like-minded people who want to lose weight that you’ll be joining, as well as access to lots of healthy recipes.

One of the best ways to kick start weight loss is to make yourself more aware of what you’re consuming on a daily basis. Since eating healthy consistently is one of the challenges to losing weight, holding yourself accountable by writing down what you’re eating will make it harder to cheat yourself. Get a notebook, download an app or join a program and start tracking your way to a healthier you.

Reneé DuBose is a Chicago media professional who was bitten by the health and fitness bug a few years ago. On her journey to get and stay fit, she started a health and wellness blog to share her tips with friends, family and anyone needing help. Visit The Fit Print and keep up with her on Instagram @theFitPrint.