If you're trying to lose weight but not seeing results, it can be difficult to understand where you're going wrong. Part of the problem is probably centered around the food you're eating. You may not be consuming balanced meals, which makes it harder to shed those extra pounds. To overcome this roadblock, start a food journal. A simple record of meals and snacks can do wonders for your weight-loss goals. Here are a few reasons you should be keeping a food journal:

1. To be more aware of your food

When you have to stop and write down everything on your plate, you start to notice the type of foods you're consuming a lot more. You should have a healthy balance of slow and fast carbs as well as protein during each meal. Keeping this in mind while you jot down your foods will help you realize what you're missing in your meals.

You'll also start to notice if your proportions are too big. When you add up the nutrition in your meals at the end of the day, you might not be getting enough fruit and veggies. Knowing what your diet is lacking will help you be more conscious when choosing foods for your next meal.

Older woman writing in a green notebook, with a cart full of groceries. When you keep a food journal, you'll be more conscious of your meals, which could help you choose healthier items.

2. To notice eating patterns

After you've been writing in your journal for a while, you might start to notice patterns. For instance, maybe you never realized that you drink a soda every lunch and occasionally with dinner, or perhaps you end up eating a snack right before bed a few nights each week. These might seem like small things, but they can actually have a major impact on your weight-loss goals.

Keeping a record of these patterns and habits is also beneficial if you plan on visiting a nutritionist. It's easier for a health professional to give you dietary tips when he or she knows what your regular eating habits are.

"When people are upset, they tend to reach for unhealthy foods."

3. To keep track of emotions

Once you're in the habit of noting the foods you eat, start making a column to list your emotions as well. You might be thinking, "What do my emotions have to do with my eating?" When people are stressed out or upset, they tend to reach for unhealthy foods. You might find that when you've had a rough day at work, you go home and dig into a pint of ice cream, or maybe you're more prone to make a meal that's less healthy.

Either way, the journal will help you realize when you give into emotional eating. You can use this information in the future to try and limit yourself from consuming too much of your comfort food. For example, the next time you've had a frustrating day, give yourself two scoops of ice cream instead of sitting down with the container.

4. To stay motivated to eat healthy

A food journal is meant to keep track of your eating habits, but that doesn't mean you can't use it for more. At the end of each day, start noting what you did well and what you could improve. This will help you feel like you've accomplished something, but will also give you a task to focus on the next day. An example of a health effort you did well could be something as small as not drinking that extra soda after work, or maybe you got a workout in before dinner. An improvement might be that you need to cut back on the number of slow carbs you're eating each day.

Taking the time to consider these things will really help you understand your eating habits and make changes that take you closer to reaching your weight-loss goals.


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