Dear Diary, Today I ate…

You may know that keeping a food diary (or journal, if you prefer) is a powerful tool for losing weight or changing your eating habits, but the full force of a food journal’s powers isn’t really obvious until you are actually, currently keeping one.

Like many people, I’m not immune to a bit of winter/early spring weight creep. That’s why maintaining a weight loss can sometimes be as much work as losing the weight in the first place. I hadn’t kept a food journal since last summer, when I was participating in a fitness and weight loss challenge at work. I had wondered why a few pounds had snuck back, since I eat very healthfully and hadn’t let my exercise routine slack off much in the face of my new schedule of work-class-study-sleep-repeat schedule.

Well, now I know the reason. Nuts.

I love nuts, and they are quite good for you. But they are also quite caloric (duh!). I had fallen into the habit of rather mindlessly grabbing a small handful of nuts, or a spoon of nut butter, here and there. I’m pretty sure some unplanned spoonfulls of cottage cheese worked there way in there, too. Mindless eating is not your friend!

So the moral of this story is: Calories count! Yes, it is super-important to eat healthy foods, but making healthy food choices is not a license to throw portion control to the wind! Nuts are healthy, but too many nuts can make you fat.

When you’re looking at the scale and asking yourself “What is going on?!” or squeezing into pants and asking yourself “Why are these so tight?!” the food journal is your friend. Be honest with it, and it will be honest with you about what is going on. I’ll tell ya, every time this week when I’ve thought about sprinkling a few extra nuts on a salad or taking a taste of peanut butter that I hadn’t planned as part of a meal, I’ve said to myself, “No, because then I have to put it in my journal.” In my case, of course, my journal is in an online forum that hundreds (if not thousands) of people have access to. That’s an extra level of accountability that is especially powerful.

The results speak for themselves…one week into the challenge, and the feed back from the scale, the tape measure and the body fat callipers are telling a happy tale. Hooray!