If you're having trouble with The Daniel Plan, it might be time to start journaling. One of the biggest reasons why people don't succeed at losing weight and getting healthy is because they neglect to track their food intake and daily habits.
Journaling is a critical part of our program. It is so important that even if you are doing great on The Daniel Plan, it is a good idea to keep a journal. The participants in The Amen Solution weight-loss program say that keeping a daily journal to measure their progress is the ONE exercise that makes the biggest difference in their success.
Keep a food journal
Research shows that keeping a food journal DOUBLES weight loss in just 10 weeks and helps you maintain your new svelte figure. Keeping a food journal, for example, helps you avoid calorie amnesia and helps break denial.
Writing down everything that goes into your body makes you conscious, aware, and more likely to do the right things. It is easier than ever to do this by using the online calorie-counting program on The Amen Solution website (www.theamensolution.com).
I think journaling what you eat is like keeping a checkbook. It holds you accountable. If you don't know how much money you are spending, you are much more likely to become bankrupt. If you eat or drink more calories than you burn, or if you fill your body with counterfeit foods (like processed foods), you will become fat and nutritionally bankrupt.
Create a visual food diary
As the saying goes, a picture is worth 1,000 words. Taking photos of everything you eat is another great way to track your food intake. Researchers have found that photo diaries are effective in helping you stick with a healthy eating plan.
The photos also make it very easy for you to see if you're overloading your plate with too many white foods (pasta, potatoes, white rice), not eating enough veggies, or overdoing it on your portion sizes.
If your cell phone has a camera, take a picture before you dig in, then review the images at the end of the day. The pictures don't lie and will keep you from lying to yourself about what you're eating.
What to track in your food journal:
- All foods and beverages (many people forget to include drinks).
- Put a plus sign (or smiley face) next to the healthy foods and a minus sign (or frown face) next to the unhealthy foods.
- Number of calories for each meal, snack, or dessert. Knowing the total number of calories you eat each day is important, but it's also critical to know WHEN you're eating most of your calories. Studies show that nighttime eating can lead to weight gain. If two people eat the exact same number of calories in a day, but one of them eats more calories earlier in the day and one eats more calories at night, the one who eats later in the day is more likely to gain weight.
Track your daily habits
Eating right is only part of The Daniel Plan. Getting more physical activity, doing mental exercises, changing negative thinking patterns, reducing stress, knowing your numbers, getting good sleep, taking your supplements—these are all important aspects of the program too. If you want to get the most out of The Daniel Plan, you need to track your daily habits as well as your moods, anxiety, energy levels, self-control, attention, and memory.
When you track these things, you may soon start discovering how your sleep affects your eating habits, how your moods lead to emotional overeating, or how negative thinking keeps you mired in your old self-destructive habits. This can be a real eye-opener.
One of the participants in the weight-loss program we offer at the Amen Clinics discovered that on some days she was having trouble focusing when she first got to work in the morning and would end up having to stay late to get her work done.
By looking back at her journal, she realized that it was on the mornings when she wasn't eating any protein for breakfast that she had this problem. By making sure she started each day with at least some protein (protein increases the ability to focus) she was able to get her work done faster so she didn't have to stay late.
On The Amen Solution website (www.theamensolution.com), we have a very easy-to-use Brain Journal that helps you track:
Sleep hours last night:
Number of fruits and vegetables today:
Type of physical exercise and # of minutes:
One thing that motivates me today:
On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being terrible and 10 being the best, rate your:
- Quality of sleep
- Impulse control
Plus, we also give the following Brain Healthy Reminders to help keep you track.
Review One-Page Miracle
Take my brain healthy supplements
Eat brain healthy foods
Stay within calorie budget
Drink adequate amount of water
Kill the ANTs (automatic negative thoughts)
Reduce stress by practicing relaxation techniques
Learn something new
Write 5 things you're grateful for