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Time for another healthy living post.

Let’s talk about the benefits of keeping a food log, tracker, or diary.

Here’s the deal:  they work.

Five years ago my food diary was my best friend. I was skeptical about using one at first but it didn’t take long for me to see how keeping track of what I ate helped me make informed choices throughout the day. You can see what your calorie or fat count is and you can plan your day around it.

On days you go over— and you will— you simply start over the next day and try your best. When you keep a food diary, you take control. I lost fifty-five pounds by exercising more and using a food diary and I’m not unusual at all. Check out this article from USA Today showing that people who use a food journal lose twice as much weight as those who don’t track their intake.

Before you rush out and buy a food diary or download an app, I recommend you look at your portion control first because without knowing what a proper portion is you’ll quickly become frustrated with a food log. We live in a “Biggie” world of portions and it’s good to refresh our memories on just what a proper portion really is.

I scoured the web for something simple and helpful and here’s what I found from the good old Mayo Clinic. It’s a visual, simple guide to portion control for weight loss and it will take you about fifteen minutes to flip through and read.

You’ll “get” portion size immediately and you might even be shocked. I bookmarked it because even though I know my portions, I still need refreshers now and then. Sometimes my “cup” of cereal runneth over. I don’t think I’ll forget the hockey puck next to the bowl of pasta anytime soon, so watch the slides!

You’re back? Ok, let’s pick a food journal. A trip to any bookstore or Amazon.com or big box store with a health section will yield several food journals ranging in price from 3.99 to 9.99 The one I used with great success is no longer available but I did find a couple I’ve used, liked and would recommend: Calorie King and The Ultimate Diet Log

Pen and paper is good but last week I hit food journal pay-dirt when I found an app that’s called MyFitnessPal. It’s FREE and has NO ads. It’s available for Apple, Android, Blackberry and Windows home computer and laptop users. It automatically updates across all your devices too!

Log in your weight, your goals, your exercise and your food for the day. It calculates it all automatically within seconds. If you log in your breakfast and lunch, it tells you how many calorie, carbs and fat grams you have left for the day. It tells you when you’re on target and tells you when you haven’t eaten enough.

I was a little shocked when I got that memo.

Along with the fact I hadn’t eaten enough it also said that eating below the recommended calorie count for my goals that I was putting my body in starvation mode and I would stop losing weight. Whoops!

This is a simple and efficient app, taking no more than about ten or fifteen minutes out of your day. Hands-down better than anything I’ve ever used.

This winter I gained ten of my fifty-five back due to the before, during and after of having vascular procedures on both legs. My exercise routine is still a little wobbly but I’m determined to take back control by logging in. How about you?.

Have you ever tried a food/exercise log app or pen to paper log? Do you think you might like to try? Why or why not? I

n a couple of weeks I’ll do an update and if you have successes to share with your food tracker I would love for you to join me so we can celebrate them together. You can also share your whoops moments and I’ll be more than happy to give you a friendly nudge too.

Til next time, eat, drink and be merry!