Using the Weight Loss Journal
(you may want to print this page for reference}
Time: the exact start and ending time of each meal. This alerts clients to the times of day that are more hazardous to healthy eating patterns and shows how quickly clients may be eating their meals. Most overweight people tend to eat too quickly.
Place: the exact location where clients ate, e.g., in the bedroom or kitchen, or at a table or desk. Clients might find that certain environments stimulate overeating. For instance, eating lunch at their desk in the office may lead clients to associate eating with every visit to their desk.
Physical Position: the position while eating, e.g., sitting, standing or walking. It is virtually impossible for clients to appreciate what they are eating if they are busy walking across campus or lying down and watching television.
Company: the people who shared mealtimes. Some people have “eating buddies” they regularly eat with or people who may trigger overeating. Clients should notice if some people keep showing up in their food diaries during periods of undesirable eating.
Mood: clients’ state of mind before they ate, e.g., stressed, depressed or tired. Most overeating is not due to hunger. It’s important for clients to record what their mood was before they ate.
Hunger: level of hunger on a scale of I to 5, with I being “full” and 5 being “very hungry.” Clients may notice how often they eat when they are not hungry.
Reasons for Eating: why clients ate at this time, e.g., “it was dinner time,” “I was hungry” or “I was bored.” Clients can learn not to eat as a reaction to environment.
Food Eaten and Amount Eaten: type of food and portion size. Although this program does not put clients on a diet, their awareness of the types of food they eat is important. It is not enough to write “popcorn.” Instead, clients should write ” 1/2 Cup of movie theater popcorn.”
Associated Activity: what clients were doing when they ate, e.g., reading, watching television, sitting with family members. At first clients will become aware of how often they eat during certain activities. Later they will work on not combining eating time with other activities.
Afterthoughts: how clients felt after eating, e.g., guilty, uncomfortably full or good. This can be one of the most powerful records. Clients may be startled by how often they feel guilty or uncomfortably full after eating certain things. They may also be impressed with how often they feel good and full of energy after making better eating choices.
Physical Activity: exercise that clients performed, from raking leaves and walking the dog to using a stair climber. They should also record the amount of time they participated in the activity. As a personal trainer, you will probably find the “Physical Activity” section of the food diary the most comfortable.