If you’re trying to lose weight, you may dread the holiday gatherings for fear of getting off track.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Bariatric Surgeon Dr. Mark Colquitt and the team at Foothills Weight Loss Surgeons in Knoxville believe that you can still enjoy holiday parties and be on top of your weight loss goals. This can be done with the help of a food journal.

What is a food journal and how can it help you?
A food journal is simply a tool for keeping track of what you eat and drink throughout the day.

By keeping a food journal, you’ll understand what your eating habits and patterns are. When done with consistency, you’ll be able to identify the good and the bad in your diet and change it for the better.

Several studies have shown that those who kept a food journal were more successful in losing weight, and keeping off the weight than those who did not keep a food journal. Food journaling helps you stay accountable, aware of your eating habits, and it can help you find specific areas of your diet that may need improvements.

What should be included in a food journal
A basic food journal can include the following:

• What you are eating
Accuracy and consistency are keys to successful food journaling. So, write down everything you have in a day (including sauces and condiments) and how they are prepared (e.g. baked, fried, etc.).

• How much you are eating
If you have the energy, time, and equipment, it’s best to measure your food intake by weighing them. If you don’t have a food scale, you may use measuring cups and spoons. And if you’re away from home, just try your best to estimate the portion.

• When and where you are eating
Noting the timing and place of eating can help you identify eating issues such as emotional eating or late-night snacking.

Tips for successful food journaling
If this is your first time doing food journaling, it may seem challenging and time-consuming at first. But once you get used to it, it becomes part of your everyday routine that you don’t need to think about.

Here are some tips to help you succeed in keeping a food journal:

Write your entries (food and drink) as soon as you consume them. This way, you don’t end up forgetting.
It may be impossible to be 100 percent accurate, but try to be as specific as you can when it comes to what kind of food or drink you had and how much you consumed.

If using pen and paper is too cumbersome for you, there are apps like MyFitnessPal that can make it easier.

These apps may come with a scan feature that allows you to scan the barcode of your food and drink and it will automatically provide you with calories and nutrition information.

Holidays are meant to be enjoyed. Have fun with it and keep track of your weight loss goals with a food journal.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Foothills Weight Loss Surgeons is part of Premier Surgical Bariatrics in Knoxville, Tennessee. Foothills is affiliated with the Parkwest Center for Bariatric Surgery, part of Covenant Health Bariatric Services.