No matter how big or small it is, if I eat or drink it, I track it. At first I just ate whatever and tracked it later to see what I consumed. Now I plan ahead and track my food BEFORE I eat it, so I can see whether I can afford to eat everything I planned or if it will be outside of my nutritional goals. I can then adjust if necessary before it's too late. :)
I've learned that if I track my food and my exercise at the beginning of the day instead of as I go, I'm more likely to get it done. I feel like I made a commitment to eat these things and do this amount of exercise today so I better get it done.
I have been planning my meals and snacks the night before and doing food prep so that I know if I have any wiggle room if an opportunity for treat arises. This has helped me stay with in line my nutrition goals this summer and I hope to be in the routine by the time school starts again in the fall.
Setting up shop with the food journal takes time, but once you've made lists of "favorites" and "food groupings", it can usually be done in less than 10 minutes a day. Once selected, the groupings can easily altered by adding or subtracting a food to that particular meal.
My evening meal normally is my largest calorie intake as I'm eating with my friends or my family. I've started counting my intake for the day with the evening meal. Beginning here still keeps me focused but allows me to adjust my breakfast and lunch if necessary to stay within my calories for the day. This helps me avoid coming to the last meal of the day with few calories left heading into a big meal. It's just a lot easier if you're like me and it tends to be the biggest meal of my day!
Do the math on thing you eat in small quantities over the course of the day, to find out if it's worth adding the to your food tracking. In my case, I don't worry about tea (I drink a lot, but it's a negligible calorie count), but do measure out and track nuts to snack on at work (because, a few nuts at a time, I can eat a half-cup over the course of the day).
When cooking, many of us tend to taste the progress as we're adding spices and other ingredients. Those "tastes" can add up to a lot of calories, especially when cooking a big dinner like Thanksgiving! Keep a jar near the stove and every time you catch yourself "tasting", add an equal amount to the jar. You may be surprised at how much your jar adds up!
I recently discovered that the vinaigrette that I've been making for years has almost 700 calories from olive oil alone! I didn't think it could taste good with any less and I preemptively felt very deprived knowing I'd have to cut out my favorite food. Last night my husband made dinner for me, along with my "regular" salad. He later told me that he'd cut the total amount of olive oil for the entire salad to 2 tbls--I didn't miss a thing! So happy I can have my salad and eat it too!
I was afraid to even TRY the food tracker thinking it was going to be some long and drawn out process. NOT SO!!! This is BY FAR the BEST food tracking system I have ever seen! And it is easy breezy to put your own items in it. Ex: my morning coffee has a little bit of splenda and powdered creamer, I put it all together and named it Cat's Coffee. Instead of choosing 3 separate items, I click on that in my favs. Can it get any easier? And the reports you can run? TOTALLY AWESOME!!! You'll LOVE IT!
Journaling can help you to know where you are and where you are coming from. It helps you to see what you may have done to affect your program and how to correct yourself to get back on track. Journaling is a great way to express yourself, review your actions, and motivate yourself on your journey.
If you have internet access on your mobile phone you can use sparkpeople mobile to track your food on the go! It ensure you won't forget about that cookie that looked too good to pass up and you can look up options if you find yourself at a restaurant without a plan.