First, get started by tracking your eating for at least a week or more. I carry a little purse sized notebook and just jot down what I eat during the day. Then each evening I input it into the Food & Exercise Diary for Windows software program I use (described in the Tools section of my website).
Tracking what I eat allows me to see trends over time, and also makes it very clear why my weight rises sometimes and falls others. If you decide to track your eating, it's best to simply capture yourself being yourself. Don't try to eat better just for the sake of logging better values. The idea is to discover your real eating habits and patterns.
To demonstrate how easily we "forget" what we've eaten, try to write a log of what you ate yesterday from memory. You'll be able to remember the main meals, but you'll probably have more trouble remembering the little bits here and there. You may even think you didn't eat anything except the meals, but most people do and yes, chewing gum counts, and so does anything you put in your mouth. Just list the basic foods, meals, etc., as best you can recall. Then put that list aside, and today write down what you actually eat as soon as possible after you eat it.
Don't write your log before you eat either. That's not being yourself, that's dictating a prescribed diet. If you're following a certain eating plan, that's fine, but still wait until you've eaten it to write it down. If you remember what you already ate today, write that down too, including that tiny nibble of cake as you walked past, and that little grab from the peanut dish. Everything you eat or drink including plain water, must be listed.
Those extra tastes and nibbles can easily add up to 250 or more calories every day. Especially if you tend to taste while you cook. Here's a diet tip: Stop licking the spoon! Quitting those little tastes while you cook could save you from adding a few pounds this winter.
I know it sounds hard to do but stop licking the beaters, scraping the last bits out of the bowl and popping bits in your mouth "to see if it's done." Just wait until it's ready, then go ahead and eat some, but remember, those tastes add up and they are not worth carrying around five extra pounds. Put the stirring spoons and beaters immediately under water if you must, or give them to the kids as a treat.
The point of a food diary is to capture your regular eating patterns, then choose one thing at a time to work on changing. It's easier to work on changing one small habit at a time. No, each individual thing is not going to cause major weight loss but they do add up.
Resolve now that you will drop the habit of licking the spoon, or tasting as you cook. I can hear you wailing that you won't know if it tastes right. Okay so you need one little teensy taste, but not hundreds, get it? A tiny bit on the tip of a spoon or fork tines, is not the same as multiple big bites while cooking. Tasting is not eating. Licking the entire remaining contents of the bowl you used for making pudding is not the same as a taste either. That's a serving. It's better to just break the habit. Sure, it's a holdover from when you were a kid. It was a treat to lick the spoon, but you're not a kid anymore are you? Let your kids have their turn but give this habit up for yourself.
Remember, it's these little changes that create real results. It's one trick of those who stay naturally slender. Likewise, when you discover your general eating habits you can choose one thing to change, cut back, or discard entirely. Sometimes it's best to just take it slowly as in weaning yourself from whole milk to skim. First try 4% and when that seems okay, switch down again to 2%. Eventually you'll be drinking skim milk and thinking it's fine, in fact once you get used to it, you'll think whole milk tastes like pure cream.
Of course whole milk tastes better than skim, so do thousands of other foods taste better than each other, but you must choose what you'll regularly eat. Do you want to consume a large portion of calories and fat in your milk or would you rather eat something more substantial plus the milk?
What if there were a global energy failure and we no longer had fast food restaurants? Would you curl up in a ball and not know what else to eat or would you simply learn what else is out there for nourishment? I'd venture you'd adapt to the circumstance. Look at "restaurant Confidential" by Michael F. Jacobson and Jayne Hurley for a shocking surprise when you see how many calories are in a regular restaurant meal. Once you see you're eating triple the calories you realize, it makes it much easier to cut back from eating out every night to three times a week, then twice or once, until one day you find you eat out for special occasions only.
I hear from a lot of people who say they can't understand why they can't lose weight, yet they eat out at restaurants orhave fast food two or more times a day. They simply don't realize they are probably eating far more than 2000 calories a day, and if they are not pretty active, that can add up to quite a few extra pounds. It doesn't do much good to figure out how many calories you need to lose weight and then far exceed that number simply because you aren't paying attention.
Tracking what you eat does takes some effort but it's a GREat way to discover what's really going on regarding your habits and triggers.
You may find you actually reach into the candy dish six times a day or that you chew an entire pack of gum every day. You could be drinking hundreds of calories every day in just one or two extra soft drinks or coffee drinks. In fact, some coffee drinks contain more than 500 calories each. That's usually more than you'd eat for your entire breakfast.
Start with just a small blank notebook, and if you enjoy the process you may want to look into a software program, but no matter what, the sooner you start capturing yourself being yourself, the sooner you're well on your way to weight loss success.
~~ Kathryn Martyn, Master NLP Practitioner, EFT counselor, author of Changing Beliefs, Your First Step to Permanent Weight Loss, and owner of OneMoreBite-Weightloss.com
Get the Daily Bites: Inspirational Mini Lessons Using EFT and NLP for Ending the Struggle with Weight Loss.