Skinny Daily Post


As a guru friend of mine said to me this morning, if I am going to lose weight and keep it off, its important for me to ‘write every bite, track every snack, journal every kernal, and scribble every nibble.’ Its just one of those things that I know about, but have had difficulty putting into practice lately. While food journalling may not be the most exciting thing in the world, I have several years of experience that shows me when I am doing it faithfully I am never surprised at how much I weigh (and I generally weigh close to where I like to maintain).

I’ve tried a number of different methods to keep track of my food intake, and I realize that, just like when choosing foods, some things work some of the time and other things work at other times, but there is no single thing that always works all of the time. I’ve tried almost everything, from small paper journals, to a bound diary, to a computer spreadsheet, to an online message board and even the back of an envelope (literally).

As I play with what works and what doesn’t work, I realize that the most important thing for me is to have all of the information about what I’m eating, but none of the self-judgements. Yeah, it bugs me to have to write ‘2nd bag of popcorn’ or ‘4 chocolate candies’ or ‘bag of chips (swiped from my partner).’ It can really feel disheartening to see those ill-advised choices in black and white.

Ironically, however, when I can see these things written down (or typed in, or checked off, etc.) it gives me knowledge, perspective and self-understanding. And not only that, when I am journalling, the amount of time and energy it actually takes to do so is only a tiny fraction of what I imagine it to be when I’m not doing it!

The other day a woman told me ‘I’m not doing this forever. There’s no way I’m doing this for the rest of my life.’ I understand where she’s coming from, and I respect her choice. For me personally, however, the trade-off between keeping a food diary versus being overweight is clear and compelling. After all, I’d rather have a 50 lb stack of daily food records, than a 50 lb stack of excess body fat.

If you journal, what works for you?

9 thoughts on “Honesty Policy

  1. Monica says:

    I journal with a multi colored pen. Stuff like veggies and fruits I use green, stuff like ice cream and candy and other not-so-nutritious foods are in red, water is in blue, grains and such are in black, meats are in purple…and so on.

    At the end of the day, I feel like a school kid gone bad if I see lots of red because it means I made poor choices. I love seeing lots of green because it means I made healthier choices, and if I see green with lots of other pretty, non red colors I feel like I ate balanced meals. :o)

  2. Sara Burns says:

    Peertrainer is a great place for journaling because it adds the accountability of some group members to the equation. You should check it out.

  3. Denise says:

    I try to eat according to the DASH plan. It is a plan for hypertension, but I find that it works really well for weight loss and weight maint. It has also been great for my cholesterol. It is similar to the USDA food pyramid with food groups. I’m really full eating this way, which is very important to me.

    For a DASH PDF file, see:

    The Mayo Clinic website also has a very good food pyramid with specific food serving guidelines – it is VERY close to what DASH recommends.

    I’ve got a log on the fridge with food groups. I put a / when I eat a half serving and a X when I eat a whole serving. (A serving of pasta is a half a cup, not a big old plateful…) A “perfect” day might look like:

    Grains XXXXX /
    Vegs XXXX
    Fruits XXXX
    Dairy XX /
    Meat/eggs/fish X /
    Beans X
    Nuts /
    Healthy oil XX
    Alcohol 1.5 oz
    Sweets 0

    Dash is hard if you eat a lot of processed foods or restaurant foods… like is an egg roll a grain? a veg? Are the vegs in a egg roll a fourth of a serving? And where do I log the unhealthy oils?

    But most days, I find the DASH plan easy to stick to and I eat pretty healthy.

  4. jd says:

    Hi Jonathan. I’ve journaled every single day since August 2003. I’ve lost about 35 pounds and kept it off for more than a year, pretty easily. I understand that I will have to be consciously aware of everything that goes into my mouth for the rest of my life. Compulsive eating is an addictive behavior and for me, there’s no more bargaining, wanting to be “normal”, checking out with food, etc. I write it all down, every day – and lots of it is ugly. I still engage in emotional eating. But awareness of what I am doing helps me to stop the behavior so much more quickly and just FEEL the pain, anxiety, fear, anger, whatever feeling I am trying to cover with food. Conscious awareness – always.



  5. Laura says:

    I seem to do really well for about 3+ months and then the thought of journaling, calculating, constant decisions on every morsel going into my mouth, weighing, measuring, wondering if I have what I can eat on hand, etc. will suddenly make me crazy.

    I look at my husband, who can just open the fridge and take something out and eat/drink it without any of the above going on in his head and, well, I get resentful at times. I look at some friends who can eat chicken breast and a salad nearly 24/7 and it doesn’t bother them and wonder what planet they are from.

    I do try really hard to be accepting that this is my cross to bear and much of the time I do it without complaint, but inevitably there are times it just seems too much to do for the rest of my life. I hope I can change that and I admire those of you who don’t have a problem with it.

    Thanks for letting me vent.

  6. Diane says:

    To have conscious awareness without the self-condemnation, my “Journal” is a stack of small scrap paper sheets on my kitchen table with a pen. Each day, I write on one sheet what I ate tally up the numbers, think that was good or that I will do better, then crumble it up and THROW IT AWAY. It’s over. No obsessing! Fresh sheet of paper for tomorrow…Works for me, when I practice this. The hard thing is accepting this is the way I have to do it and will never be “Normal”. Whatever that is.

    ~~Diane in Wisconsin

  7. Siobhain says:

    I am a Weight Watcher’s lifetime member who’s about 7-8 very stubborn #’s above goal! I like to use their weekly pamphlet type journals, though I will confess that I am not as regular as I’d like to be. On busy days, I just do the “Quick Track” which is just crossing off the points. I do find it more helpful though to write in what I actually ate and when. I agree with Jonathan that when I consistenty do not journal over weeks the scale nudges up even higher. I like to throw out my food journal at the end of the week–I feel like I’m starting with a clean slate for the new week.
    It is a small price to pay for staying at a healthy weight I think. I look at my weight loss journey as “one day at a time”.

  8. Rod says:

    I journal using my pocket pc, using an excel spredsheet, based off the ww point system. I like the idea of having a place to write a reason for eating the food.


  9. Amy K. says:

    I track everything via my account at I love, love, LOVE the graphs, and sometimes that’s all that keeps me going back. I stopped tracking on the weekends for a while…. And I was above the 2 pound “cushion” at my October Weight Watchers weigh-in. Lifetime members weigh in at least once a month, and somedays I think that’s all that keeps me on my toes.

    On the topic of not tracking – Weight Watchers has a new plan, introduced in 2004, called Core. While not entirely a “no counting” plan, it cuts down a lot on the counting and some people find it very freeing.

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