Getting all ready to go on a weight loss diet plan? If so, a food journal is a must. Food journals not only allow you to track what you are or aren’t doing with your diet plan, but in addition to that, they’re also great for keeping you accountable. For most people, simply knowing they have to write down what they eat will make them think twice about eating foods they shouldn’t. That said, a food journal does need a few things in order to be maximally effective. Let’s take a closer look so that you can make sure that yours is set up properly. The Date And Time First, make sure that your food journal contains both the date and time that you are eating the food. This is the best way to keep track of exactly how your day is being laid out. Meal timing can influence how you feel and function on a day to day basis, so by having this data in there, you can look back at patterns of when you felt the best and see how it’s connected to when you are eating your meals. The Volumes Of Foods Eaten Perhaps the most important thing that a food journal needs (in addition to the actual food listing of course), is the volume of food that you consumed. Food volume matters. It doesn’t make a difference whether you are eating baked sweet potatoes or all potato chips, if you eat too much of either, you can gain weight. You need to list how much food you eat so that you can accurately assess the calorie value of that food to figure out whether this is what was linked to weight gain (or loss). If you aren’t tracking your calories, it’s impossible to know for certain whether you’ll see the results that you’re looking for. A Hunger Rating Take some time when writing in your food journal to jot down your hunger level. On a scale of 1 to 10, how hungry are you? Are you a 5? A 9? A 3? If you see yourself eating at times when hunger really isn’t that big of an issue, that’s a very good sign that you are on route to weight gain. Having that hunger scale there can make you that much more aware if emotional eating is coming into play. An Emotional Note Likewise, it’s also a good idea to write down a few sentences about what you are experiencing emotionally. Are you feeling down? Feeling excited? Feeling lonely? Write this down. If you are eating for reasons other than hunger as identified above, having these emotional notes can help you pinpoint your triggers, which you can then get assistance with. Your Weight Finally, also make sure that you are taking down your weight. This way, as you look back over time through your journal and assess the foods you are eating, you can see how it impacted your body weight over time. Remember that seeing results on a diet plan, whether it’s to build muscle or lose fat, is a process of continual adjustment. If you aren’t tracking what you are doing, it gets very hard to make those adjustments as needed. That in turn can result in little to no progress. So start that food journal and be as precise as possible. It’s the best strategy to optimize your results.