If weight loss is one of your health goals, it may be wise to take a closer look at what you’re eating by using the food logging feature in the Fitbit app. Experts agree, the simple act of recording meals and snacks can not only help you lose more weight, but keep it off for longer, too. Yes, all that logging can feel tedious at times, but it works! By spending a few days spotting where those extra calories are sneaking in, you’ll gain invaluable insights.
Here are a few tips to make food logging a little easier, and get the most out of your data.
Tip #1 Commit to 7 Days. To get an accurate assessment of your eating habits, you need at least a few days a week—including one weekend day—but an entire week is even better. You’ll get a sense of how many calories you’re typically eating, and can then work out how many calories you should be eating to help you reach your goal weight. If you want to establish new habits, keep logging. And if you want to lose 5 pounds (or more!), stick with it for at least a month.
Tip #2 Learn the shortcuts. The fastest way to log is to simply use the plus button at the bottom of your dashboard and select “log food” or “scan barcode.” (iOS users on newer devices with force touch can do a hard press on the Fitbit app icon and then click on log food.) By tapping the barcode symbol you can then use the camera on your smartphone to capture the barcode, and voilà! That exact item should pop up. All you need to do is select your serving size. (Note: This doesn’t mean you need to survive on packaged foods! Lots of fresh produce comes with barcodes, too!) You can also make use of “most popular” and “common” foods when searching for a food item, it’ll save you time trawling through a long list of brands.
Tip #3 Input your favorite foods once. The first few days are the most tiresome, but rest assured, it gets easier the more you do it. When you go to log a food, view the “frequent” and “recent” food lists, where the foods you eat regularly will automatically appear at the top for quick and easy logging. “Custom” foods require a bit more work to input, but once you have, they are great for the foods you eat often, but can’t easily find in the database.
Tip #4 Log as you eat. It’s easy to forget the details of a meal when relying on memory. If you absolutely don’t have time to log it immediately, take a photo. You could also use silent alarms and set personal reminders to nudge you to log your food at regular meal times, until logging becomes a habit.
Tip #5 But also, plan ahead! Use food logging to meal plan. If you know what you’re going to eat for breakfast all week, log it beforehand. It’ll make the process faster, and you’ll be more likely to stick to your healthy eating plan if it’s already recorded.
Tip #6 Pay attention to portion sizes. If you’re totally new to calorie counting, pull out your measuring cups and spoons, and invest in a kitchen scale. You only need to measure a few times before you’ll get the gist of how much you should be eating. Plus, check out Fitbit’s visual guide to portion sizes! When you have a rough idea of what 3 ounces of steak looks like (a deck of cards), or a cup of pasta (a tennis ball), entering your servings will be quicker, easier, and more accurate.
Tip #7 Be honest. Log every morsel you eat and drink—yes, even the milk in your coffee, the cheese on your taco, and your son’s half eaten cupcake. The more detail you provide, the more accurate the data will be. There is no judgement, guilt, or shame—only the satisfaction of knowing you’re that much closer to achieving your weight goal!
Tip #8 Look for patterns. Take note of other triggers and behaviors linked to your eating. Do you eat something every time you walk into the kitchen? Is 3 p.m. your candy-witching hour? Does a deadline cause you to reach for donuts? By spotting patterns around when, where, and why you eat certain foods, you can develop strategies to prevent them from recurring, and start working towards a healthier you.
Embrace the process and approach food logging with a positive attitude—if you enjoy the journey of self discovery, you’ll be more likely to stick to it.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.