After nearly 2.5 years of religiously logging my daily food intake, I’ve stopped keeping a food journal.
It wasn’t a conscious decision I made. Basically, after I moved at the end of June, I simply never got around to creating a new food journal. Now that I’ve gone nearly two months without doing it, I realize that I don’t need to anymore.
I started a food journal for the same reason most people trying to lose weight do – to bring some awareness to my eating habits and hold myself accountable. Knowing I’d have to write it all down at the end of the day made me more mindful about what I was eating and I also learned a lot about how much I should eat on a regular basis.
No doubt, food journaling is a useful tool, especially if, like me, you start out completely clueless as to why you’ve put on weight. But what all of the weight loss advice articles never tell you is when or how you should stop.
For me, the timing just made sense. I reached my goal weight in February and I’ve been happily maintaining ever since. Up until July, I was still logging my food but it had become somewhat of a useless exercise because I already had a pretty solid understanding of what and how much I should be eating. Writing it down wasn’t really serving a purpose anymore.
As for counting calories, I still do it in my head but not obsessively. I try to stay within a certain range to maintain my current weight but there are days when I go over (and sometimes under) depending on what I have planned for that day, how I’m feeling, etc.
This flexibility has made me a lot more normal about food. I don’t freak out if I eat something “bad” on a day that wasn’t supposed to be a “cheat” day. I don’t panic if I get an unexpected invite to a restaurant (“but it’s not in my meal plan! OMG!”). I don’t need to know exactly how many calories are in every single thing I eat. I find I think about food a lot less and no longer need to eat at the exact same time every single day.
I’m feeling pretty good about this shift. I knew that I couldn’t count and track calories forever but, to be honest, I was a little apprehensive about what would happen if I stopped. Well, after almost two months, I haven’t gained any weight and I think my attitude towards food is a lot healthier.
So my advice is this – if you’ve been logging your food and counting calories for a long time, try taking a break and see what happens. You might be surprised by the fact that, while helpful, these tools are no longer necessary for you to maintain (or even lose) weight.
If you currently keep a food journal, how long have you been doing it for and when, if ever, do you plan to stop?
If you used to keep a food journal, when and why did you stop? Did you notice any changes – positive or negative – after you gave it up?