In my last post, I discussed the first step to lean eating which was figuring out where you are right now. I’m going to expand on that first step today by discussing the food journal some more. As I stated in the previous post, food journals are more than calorie trackers, they are also behavior trackers if used correctly.
Behavior change is the most impactful step in cleaning up your diet, but you must also dive into the specifics of what you are putting in your body. So I will give you a few questions to ask yourself as you are logging meals in your food journal.
1. Write down the last meal you ate and be specific about the amounts, condiments used, etc. The more information you add the more accurate your data will be. Portion distortion is pretty common. This is when you think you are eating much less than you actually are. Although, I think weighing and measuring food can be obsessive in the beginning, if you have been dieting for some time, this might be helpful for you to do for a short while.
2. Where is the protein? Was there any protein on your plate? Proteins would be beef, chicken, fish, tofu, legumes (beans)? Protein is essential for muscle growth and cell regeneration but many women undereating and not getting enough protein in their system every day. This is an important macronutrient to track.
3. Are fruits and vegetables the centerpiece of your plate? Always include lots of colors every day to ensure you are getting as many nutrients and minerals as you can. You don’t necessarily need to have a lot of different colors at each meal, but over the course of a day, try to include as many colors as possible.
4. Did I add heart healthy oils? These would include nut oils, coconut oil and olive oil. I also include healthy fats such as avocados and raw nuts in this category as well. If you body is receiving enough healthy fats, it will more willingly release bad fats.
5. What kind of starches or whole grains were in the meal? I generally recommend my clients consume starches and whole grains within the two hour window post workout to replenish muscle glycogen levels. This is not something I came up with but it has been taught by Dr. Jon Berardi of Precision Nutrition.
6. Did any processed foods or refined sugars and carbs make it on my plate? Be especially mindful of hidden sugars in your condiments and salad dressings. Processed foods are nutritionally void and can cause a lot of inflammation in your body. Inflammation inhibits fat loss.
Once you have logged a couple weeks of meals while answering these questions, you should be able to see some patterns. Maybe you don’t eat enough protein at breakfast. Perhaps you have been eating a lot of processed foods. These are all awesome observations and give you feedback on things you need to change.
If you haven’t already, start a food journal today and if you bite it – write it!