Keeping track…

I thought I’d share how I keep track of what I’m eating. I’ve been keeping a food diary pretty much the whole time I’ve been doing Slimming World. I used to just put everything into the online tracker, but I find it easier to plan things out in advance and be able to add things to my tracker even when I can’t get online, so I use a book. Frankly, it’s become more than just a food log – these days it’s more a journal of my journey – a place to keep track of not just my food choices, but all my little successes too!

I picked up this A5 journal from Wilkinsons for £1.75. I divide up the pages into various sections – I do this a few pages at a time, so I have them ready. I started my third one this morning, so I decided to take pictures while it was still all neat and shiny and new, so I could show it here.

The top right corner is my menu planner, with a line each for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and supper/snack. This isn’t set in stone, but it gives me a guide to follow – it can be changed if the circumstances of my day change. I sometimes plan out a whole week in advance, so I complete the plan on each day for the whole week when I do that, so I can look ahead and see what I’m having later in the week. Directly underneath that section is my syns log – everything is listed individually with the number of syns next to it, then I keep a running tally throughout the day down the side.

On top left side, I list all my free and protein foods, and directly under that is where I list my speed foods. I also pop a tiny letter next to each of them to indicated whether it was eaten at breakfast, lunch, dinner, or supper. Sometimes there is more than one letter, as some things get eaten at more than one meal, for example, if there is carrot in my lunchtime salad, and also on my plate at dinner time, there would be “L/D”.

At the bottom left corner, I keep a running tally of how many drinks I have through the day – this is tea, coffee, water, and sugar-free squash etc – all the syn-free drinks. At the bottom right corner, I log my Healthy Extra A and B choices for the day.

I don’t tend to plan out all my syns in advance, unless they’re part of a meal, or I’m taking something along with me, or have a night out (when I might syn an alcoholic drink or two). If I plan something and end up not eating it, I strike a line through it and adjust the running total appropriately. And if I change my meal plan, I strike a line through those and write in what I actually have instead (although that doesn’t happen very often).

As the dated pages are all on the right hand side, and the left age is set out in a patterned grid, I use the left-hand page to jot down any recipe I need for that day. In the example shown in the photo, I’ve jotted down the ingredients for beef kofta curry (one of my favourite meals!) to make sure I remember which spices in which quantities go into the kofta, and which go in the sauce. I’ve also jotted down the recipe, temperature, and timings for baked oats, in case I don’t have enough milk at the end of the day left over from my allowance to make regular porridge – I’ll make baked oats instead (I always have a contingency plan!).

You can see in the spread below, I’ve planned out my whole day, but at this point I haven’t eaten anything – I was having a cuppa while I wrote everything in. Once I eat, I pop a little tick next to whatever I’ve had, to indicate that yes, I had that already. This comes in handy if I plan my syns – if I decide against having something after all, a line goes through it, but if I don’t tick it off, I might forget and have another one – I’d be kicking myself later on when I remembered!

I also sometimes note my body magic on the left-hand page, whether it’s walking, doing vigorous housework, swimming, cycling, or doing an exercise DVD or class – it helps remind me to keep track of how well I’m doing and keeps me getting those Body Magic awards, which help keep me focused and motivated to do well. Non-scales victories, such as slipping into a smaller size of clothing, or getting a compliment from someone are also often popped into my log – it’s always nice to remember. To be honest, by the end of the day, my left-hand page is often something of a jumble, with all the info I jot down there, but at the start of the day, it’s nice and neat.

So, that’s how I do it. I find it really helps me to stick the plan if I can plan ahead and see, at a glance, what what I’m having each day. Some days I don’t log (but those are few and far between), and sometimes I do go off-plan, despite planning ahead, but I can still look back and see what I did right and where I went wrong. Sometimes I’ll jot an extra note on the left-hand page saying how I was feeling that day, or something that happened to send me into a spiral, or that helped me stay on track, so I have a note of that too. When I stick to the plan 100%, I draw a big smiley face somewhere on the page (usually in the syns section, as I often have space left there).

I’ve been doing it for a long time now, so this all comes as second nature and only takes a few minutes each day. I figure it’s worth spending a few minutes of time if it’s going to help me get where I want to be!

Do you use a food log? What does yours look like? How does it help you to stick to the plan? I’d love to know, so please leave a comment below!

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