In past posts I have mentioned the benefits of keeping a journal or food log. I have been keeping food logs on and off for the last 10 years. When I am actively trying to lose or maintain my weight I find it to be very helpful. I work from home, so my kitchen is a couple of steps from my office. When it is slow or I am bored and the food is in very close proximity, there is less temptation for me to snack when I know I have to enter it in my log. My clients and friends can see what I log (by choice) so I look at it like a digital accountability partner.
Whenever I start working with a new client, one of the first things I do is get them signed up with MyFitnessPal. There are several food logging sites out there, but I found MyFitnessPal to have the best food database. Another one I have used in the past was CalorieCount.com. There are pros and cons to both programs. You have to find the one that works best for you!
There is also the traditional pen and paper method, but I find that tedious when trying to calculate the nutritional value of my diet.
I have read articles and posts from people that say counting calories is a waste of time and if you eat the right foods and exercise you don’t need to keep track. If you never change your diet and your weight never fluctuates, I suppose that would be fine. However, many people do not have a clue about how many calories or the amount of fat and sugar they consume each day. Keeping track of that is essential when participating in a nutrition program.
Another great habit to get into is measuring portion sizes. In the beginning it can be daunting (especially when you see what 1 oz of pasta looks like), but once you get the hang of it you will be able to measure without the use of cups and spoons. A digital food scale is helpful for portions as well. I purchased my scale at Ross several years ago for about $10. It has been a great addition to my kitchen. I measured out a serving of cooked whole wheat penne below (the scale was adjusted for the weight of the plate). Think about the last portion you were served at a restaurant!
Small additions to your nutrition program can make a big difference on the scale!